SmartWood: DIY toy cars you can control with your smartphone

Woodn't it be nice if this was the only pun in this story?

Kids these days are prodding away and swiping at screens without thinking about what's going on under the hood. Instead of letting them think their tech toys are powered by pixie dust, why not encourage them to tinker away and discover how things actually work?

Academix Robotix's SmartWood DIY kits isn't a bad way to start them off. Each kit contains everything you and little Timmy need to build your very own RC vehicle. Things are kept nice and simple thanks to the plywood parts, which should ensure a building experience no more complicated than knocking together a cupboard from Ikea. All you need is a little glue, and you're set.

The vehicles themselves are kitted out with Bluetooth smarts, allowing you to drive them around using an accompanying app - not bulky remote required.

Ready, set, assemble!

The kits are open source, which means that hackers are free to tinker away and even bolt on extras like cameras if they fancy it, and it's a nice way to gently ease novices into the world of programming.

Apart from a standard car kit, there's also a dragster which is nearly 2ft long after assembly. There's also crawler (think a tank minus turret), an army truck and a mobile hackable platform called a minibot.

All the RCs have a workable range of 100 ft from the controller which is a decent enough distance to harass your neighbour's cat with.

SmartWood is currently on Kickstarter, where it's made US$3,650 out of the targeted US$10,000 with 25 days more to go. Pledge at least US$59 and you can have a crawler of your own, with a mere US$5 to ship outside the US.

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