PLET – Project Life management for E-Toys

Smart Objects
PLET has been designed and developed by Politecnico di Milano to:
  1. “smartify” physical toys and transform them into “e-toys” (i.e., digitally controlled interactive objects)
  2. connect e-toys with the PLET service management platform, therefore bridging the system embedded in e-toys with the applications for the toy manufacturer.

This technology is the digital core of next generation Smart Toys, being responsible of managing the e-toy interactive behaviour and transmitting (via Wi-Fi) the interaction data to the back end of the PLET service platform in a configurable, robust, and optimised way (e.g., pre-processing some raw data received from e-toy embedded devices such as RFIDs). This technology consists of an embedded platform that includes various hardware components and a software middleware. The embedded platform integrates different technologies, involving commercial sensors and actuators, orchestrated by a powerful and yet low-cost microcontroller, managed by software components that have been designed ad hoc to be as efficient and performant as possible and to maximize the potential of the hardware capabilities embedded in the e-toy.

The middleware is “hardware agnostic”, in that it provides a communication interface e-toy→PLET services platform] that is independent from the specific sensors/actuators embedded in the toy and can be customized to the specific hardware technology adopted by a specific manufacturer. To mask the hardware details completely, the middleware offers high level APIs that can be invoked using HTTP(s) and JSON calls.
The document also includes the process performed to achieve the above results, including the following activities:
  • selection of the hardware components – commercial sensors and actuators – to be embedded in e-toys;
  • integration of the chosen hardware components, in terms of both electronics and software control;
  • design of the PCB (printed circuit board), to be produced by an external manufacturer;
  • middleware API specification and implementation,

Each of the above activities comprised intense technical testing of the progressive results.