SmartGurlz launches the World’s First Mini-Robot for Girls

Dolls, Robots and Dreams: the aim is to engage more girls in Science & Tech by connecting their tablets and smartphones to their dolls via a robot

January 31st, 2017, Spielwarenmesse, Nuremberg, Germany

While millions of robots and mini-drones have been sold this year, few have ended up in the hands of women or even girls reflecting a deepening gender gap in the world of technology.

Many girls’ toys lag behind in the development of spatial skills, hands-on problem solving skills, and confidence with technology.

These are exactly the skills that SmartGurlz aims to develop.

SmartGurlz has a unique offering of stylish scooter robots, dolls and books with digital elements such as an e-learning platform that teaches basic coding. The idea is to encourage girls from being consumers of technology into creators and code writers.

‘We at SmartGurlz believe that kids learn by playing and childhood is a time for setting the foundation for further educational pursuits,’ said CEO and Co-Founder, Sharmi Albrechtsen, ‘we wanted to modernize doll playing to reflect changing times. The end result are really amazing mini-drones shaped like fashionable Italian scooters and Segway-like vehicles that are self-balancing, driven by App and can be coded using our own coding platform SugarCoded TM.’

The self-balancing aspect is unique since the robot can maneuver in small rooms, on carpet, inside and outside. SmartGurlz’s CTO, Thomas Kølbæk Jespersen has been working with Aalborg University and DTU’s robotics departments to finalise this unique feature.

Launched this 2016 Christmas in Denmark, Switzerland and UK, SmartGurlz charms geeks and toy masters but most importantly impresses girls and their parents with the amount of creative fun coding can give.

Designed by tech toy start-up company, SmartGurlz Aps, girls playing with SmartGurlz gain three major learnings:

1. SPATIAL REASONING. Girls learn how to direct/orient their robots in new environments and interpret maps.

2. COMPUTER PROGRAMMING. Girls learn to program their robots using our specially made kids coding software App called Sugar CodedTM*.

3. STORYTELLING & PROBLEM SOLVING.Girls learn to story tell and solve missions via coding.
*SugarCoded was inspired by open-sourced Scratch, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab and uses elements from Blockly, created by Google.

 

SMARTGURLZ NEW YORK STORY: CHARACTERS & BOOKS

SmartGurlz first product line is SmartGurlz New York ™ which focuses on the everyday adventures of 4 young talented women studying at the fictional New York Institute of Technology – N.I.T.

A collaboration with the Kurhn Doll Company allows us to offer high quality fashion/action dolls that represent the ideals of SmartGurlz New York TM.

SmartGurlz New York dolls are naturalistic and smartly dressed with simple elegance that you may find in a real-life, young woman touring around a college campus in the ‘Big Apple’, New York City. The multi-cultural dolls represent various education backgrounds including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and our books highlight each girl’s corresponding story line.

SmartGurlz New York products are available Christmas 2016.

Siggy: Robot, Doll and Apps • Ages 6+  

Digital Products:

SugarCoded App  Free
a strategic game-like interface that teaches coding and allows for self-build coding projects available at both App Store and Google Play

ABOUT SMARTGURLZ, A/S.
SmartGurlz is a fun, tech toy to engage girls in design, robotics and computer programming using their mobile phones and tablets. It’s created for girls who want to take playing with fashion dolls to the next level, and the name of our little company. (We’re brand new!)

Hanson Robotics Launches Kickstarter Campaign for Professor Einstein, an Expressive Robot that Teaches Science

A scientific legend brought back to life

Hong Kong (PRWEB) January 23, 2017 — Today Hanson Robotics launched a Kickstarter campaign for an uncannily human-like robot version of Albert Einstein. The company aims to honor the iconic and imaginative scientist and bring fully expressive robots direct to consumers.

Professor Einstein is a 14.5” personal robot with the ability to walk, hold a natural conversation, learn your name, maintain eye contact, answer questions, entertain and teach science. He’s cloud and Wifi connected, allowing for dynamic interaction with a tablet and the corresponding Stein-O-Matic app to learn and play games.

The robot guides users through the world of science and beyond by presenting interactive lessons, eye-popping slideshows, daily mental kick starts, thought experiments, jokes, brain games and more. With new activities added to the Stein-O-Matic every day, Professor Einstein’s robust reward system allows users to earn IQ points, which can be used to unlock special items, bonus games and avatar upgrades.

The idea for Professor Einstein was born out of toy inventor Andy Rifkin’s lifelong fascination with all things Einstein, and the values he stood for. Hanson Robotics founder and CEO Dr. David Hanson approached Andy about teaming up to create a robot, which led to the formation of a unique shared vision. Rifkin was invited to join as Hanson Robotics’ Chief Technology Officer and the robot was developed under the Hanson Robotics umbrella.

“Professor Einstein has an adaptive learning ability, which means that if you don’t understand something, he will modify the way he presents the information,” said Rifkin. “He has infinite patience. He will keep trying different ways of explaining things until it “clicks” for you. Plus, because he teaches through jokes, metaphors, and games, he makes learning genuinely fun.”

“It was crucial for us that Professor Einstein would embody a sense of playfulness and wonder,” said Hanson. “He had to inspire imagination, be a great conversationalist, and make the gestures and facial expressions that the real Albert Einstein was known for.”

The Professor Einstein Kickstarter campaign runs from January 23 – February 27, 2017. Early bird pricing starts at $249 USD. For a full rundown of the pledge levels visit the Kickstarter page.

uArm Swift: Multi-use Desktop Robotic Arm for Everyone

In 2014 UFACTORY built the first open source desktop robotic arm, ushering in a new era of affordable desktop robotic arms for consumers. uArm is an Arduino-powered desktop 4-axis parallel-mechanism robot, easy to use, has multiple accessories and open sourced. In Jan 2014, uArm went on Kickstarter and became famous overnight, leading to an exclusive interview with WIRED. A standout quote from the piece: Thirty years ago Bill Gates promised to put a computer on every desk in America, an ambitious sentiment echoed by Wang and company … The most innovative aspect of the entire project is probably the concept of putting a robot arm on your desk”.

As the robot arm is moving to various industries, its users have expanded from relatively minority geeks to robot lovers. The demand for better and easier user experience is increasing.

January 23, 2017, UFACTORY returns again, announcing two robotic arms in uArm Swift Series. Swift is intended to highlight the elegant texture of the fuselage, lightweight and portable form and flexible movement, just like a swift. This series has uArm Swift and uArm Swift Pro.

  • Hardware Upgrades

 

Performance improvements

1.Precision improvement

uArm Swift enhanced the control algorithm and increased the accuracy by 50%, from 1cm to 5mm.

uArm Swift Pro adapted self-designed reducer. Working with a high-precision stepping motor, uArm Swift Pro minimizes gear gap, improves joint accuracy, and is more compact. The built-in 12-bit magnetic encoder and motor forms instant position feedback, achieving closed-loop control, and improves the accuracy to unprecedented 0.2mm, perfectly performs 3D printing and laser engraving.

  1. Working scope improvement:

uArm Swift Series improves mechanical arm structure and increases working range by 20%, covering the working area of an entire A4 paper.

  1. CPU upgrade

uArm Swift Series upgrades the main board. We choose Arduino MEGA 2560, which is nearly 10 times larger in the storage space compared to the previous UNO edition.

  1. Accessories enhancements

uArm Swift Series has 4-axis, whether equipped with fixtures or suction head, the end of uArm can freely steer, and the replacement of accessories requires less than 30 seconds.

uArm Swift/uArm Swift Pro have a built-in socket for selected Seeed Grove modules.

uArm Swift Series can be equipped with a smart car, the uCar. uCar is a mobile open-source car, with infrared avoidance, trajectory planning functions.

uArm Swift Series adapts CNC integral forming process, and the whole body is matte black. uArm Swift looks has a more minimalistic design. The aluminum body is light and stable, enhancing the overall rigidity.

Compared with the previous version, uArm Swift series redesigned the base, inserted the mainboard and added power button, function switching button, play button and menu button. The new indicator light shows the current operation mode and status of uArm Swift.

 

 

  • Software upgrade

uArm Swift Series support PC + mobile control.

Software upgrade -uArm Studio

uArm Studio is a brand new cross-platform robotic arm control software. It has integrated offline learning, graphical programming and instant control functions, manipulate the robotic arm to finish complex tasks.

  1. Teach & Play Offline Learning Mode

Teach uArm Swift by your own hand to learn move, gripping, dropping, and save them with just a click to replay on Blockly mode. uArm Swift can also sync offline learning data once connected.

  1. Blockly-based graphical programming

Blockly is a web-based visual programming tool, allowing users to program without needing to code The software is designed to be so simple that even even preschool children could create a program easily. Detailed tutorial will be provided for your quick guide and interesting secondary development.

  1. Instant Control

uArm Studio has combined control of keyboard and mouse. Developers may use keyboard hotkeys and mouse simultaneously to control move, gripping, and dropping of the robotic arm, and it supports customize hot keys.

After connect with LeapMotion, users of uArm Swift may use their own hand to control gesture such as move, gripping and dropping etc.

 

Software upgrade –

APP-uArm Play

Robotic Arm has built-in Bluetooth module, simply connect your smartphone with uArm Play to remote control your uArm Swift or uArm Swift Pro.

Your smartphone can also work as an external actuator, download and run a program from Blockly.

 

UCS

UCS, also known as uArm Creator Studio, which is a open sourced developer tool developed by UFACTORY. UCS has integrated graphical programming and coding, to achieve features such as rapid development, visualize and easy sharing.

 

  1. Rapid Development

With numerous commands of UCS, developers don’t need to construct programming environment.

For programming developers, UCS is a rapid development tool, developers doesn’t need to construct programming environment, any interface of the whole system supports Python script, all variables can be sharing between visual programming and coding which means you don’t need to copy setting each time.

 

  1. Built-in Robotic Vision

UCS has integrated complex robotic vision function, just need to connect with the camera, so the uArm can “see” and adapt to different environment.

The camera can instantly locate, memorize, recognize and track 3D space position of objects.

3.Easy Sharing

Every creator will be able to save their own work as .task file format through the UCS programming, and it supports one click sharing to the official website of UFACTORY or Reddit Community, copying scenario in just one click on other robotic arms.

The uArm Swift Pro is a “Open Sourced” design concept with more freedom, simplicity, and functions. This is a whole new open platform came from developers, back to developers, and still that Open Source Robotic Arm. We just can’t wait to become  your comprehensive desktop assistant!

PIX3L PLOTT3R

PIX3L PLOTT3R is a series of printing robots made with LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3s by Sanjay and Arvind Seshan. Different versions provide different features. Some feature a paper feeder, some feature LEGO markers and some feature multiple EV3s working together (Holiday Card Plott3r). Some are programmed in Python and others in EV3-G. Each version also features a different print mechanism.

The original PIX3L PLOTT3Rs from 2016 used parts not available in either MINDSTORMS sets (313131 and 45544), making it hard for others to complete the same project. SCRIB3 is the newest member of the PIX3L PLOTT3R family of robots. It is built with parts available in a single 31313 set. An image processing step is completed in Python to create an image compatible with the EV3. However, the robot uses standard EV3-G code to print.

You can access the project files at www.beyondtheinstructions.com/projects.

LEGO® BOOST Building and Coding Set Unveiled at CES Empowers Children to Bring Their LEGO Creations to Life

– Building on the company’s history of merging digital programming and physical building, LEGO BOOST will inspire a younger generation to build and code their way to limitless play –

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LAS VEGAS, Jan. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW – Today the LEGO Group announced LEGO® BOOST, a supercharged building and coding set that lets children bring their LEGO creations to life by adding movement, sound and personality. Unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, LEGO BOOST will be previewed to members of the global media at Digital Experience! on January 4 and will be demonstrated to CES attendees as part of the [email protected] Kids & Technology Marketplace from January 5-8, 2017 at the Sands Expo. With a suggested retail price of $159.99 (USD), LEGO BOOST will be available in the second half of 2017.

Build the Toy You Want
LEGO BOOST combines the endless play opportunities of a traditional LEGO set with an endless variety of movement and sound capabilities made possible through an easy-to-use, app-based coding environment. LEGO BOOST was developed for children ages 7 and older by an international team of LEGO designers. Using familiar LEGO elements and simple coding language, LEGO BOOST delivers an intuitive approach and opportunities for quick success.

Powered by a Move Hub, a LEGO stud-covered brick with built-in tilt sensor upon which children can add LEGO elements, motors and a sensor that combines color and distance detection, LEGO BOOST brings movement to any LEGO creation. The set includes building instructions for five diverse models; Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4 (M.T.R.4), and the Autobuilder, each designed to give children the basic building and coding skills needed to express their creativity by personalizing whatever they build.

„We know that children dream of bringing their LEGO creations to life, and our chief ambition for LEGO BOOST is to fulfill that wish. Once children build a LEGO creation, we give them simple coding tools to ‚boost‘ their models by adding personality,“ said Simon Kent, design lead for LEGO Group. „We want children to first and foremost have a fun and limitless play experience, adding the coding opportunity is the means to get there.“

Coding Brings Your Toy to Life
LEGO BOOST introduces children to coding through a free downloadable app that contains the guidance, building instructions and simple coding commands to bring to life five LEGO creations, one at a time. Much like building with LEGO bricks, children build behaviors and actions by linking digital coding blocks in an easy-to-understand horizontal layout. To further personify the experience, LEGO BOOST lets children add voice recordings to their creations, adding personality without requiring spelling and typing. The app also includes more than 60 activities designed to inspire additional building, coding and play.

Creative Canvas Lets You Boost Any LEGO Creation
To further inspire creative building and coding, the LEGO BOOST app includes a „creative canvas“ that includes basic building instructions for three simple base models that children can use to customize their own LEGO creations. The three bases available at launch include: a walking base for making animals like a dragon or a pony, a driving base for building vehicles like a dune buggy or rover, and an entrance base so that children can make their own castle, fort, or even a futuristic space station. Once children are comfortable with building and coding the various LEGO BOOST models, they can use the kit to „boost“ any LEGO creation – from LEGO CITY and LEGO  Friends to LEGO NINJAGO and The LEGO BATMAN Movie.

LEGO® BOOST Includes:

Hardware

  • 3 BOOST Bricks:
    • Move Hub with built-in tilt sensor
    • Combination color & distance sensor
    • Interactive motor
  • 843 LEGO elements
  • Playmat, calibrated to the app, designed to facilitate mini challenges to practice simple coding trials

LEGO BOOST App

  • Free, downloadable app is iOS and Android tablet compatible

LEGO BOOST uses 6 AAA batteries. Alkaline batteries are recommended, but rechargeable batteries can be used, though may result in weaker power output.

Quick Overview

  • Includes over 840 LEGO® pieces, plus a LEGO Move Hub, Interactive Motor and a Color & Distance Sensor.
  • Move Hub features Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity, two encoded motors, activation button, internal tilt sensor and a light.
  • Interactive Motor is an encoded motor.
  • Color & Distance Sensor detects distance, motion and color, and can also function as a light.
  • Check out the cool white, orange and blue color scheme.
  • Rotate Vernie’s head to activate its shoulder-mounted spring-loaded shooter.
  • Build the M.T.R.4 (Multi-Tooled Rover 4) and try out the different tool and customization attachments to prepare the vehicle for an array of exciting activities.
  • Learn how to play a song and rock out with the Guitar4000.
  • Look after your own pet with Frankie the Cat. Be sure to feed it the right food—or it might get upset!
  • Construct, code and operate the AutoBuilder to produce real miniature LEGO® models.
  • Build and code robots and models, and complete exciting activities with the playmat and intuitive LEGO® BOOST app, available for iOS and Android tablet devices.
  • Easy-to-use intuitive software with icon-based drag-and-drop coding interface.
  • Building instructions for all 5 models are included with the free LEGO® BOOST app.
  • This product requires batteries (not included). Please refer to the product packaging for type and quantity.
  • Vernie the robot stands over 10” (27cm) tall.
  • M.T.R.4 (Multi-Tooled Rover 4) measures over 4” (12cm) high, 9” (23cm) long and 5” (14cm) wide.
  • Guitar4000 measures over 1” (5cm) high, 16” (42cm) long and 5” (15cm) wide.
  • Frankie the Cat stands over 6” (17cm) tall.
  • The AutoBuilder measures over 10” (27cm) high, 7” (19cm) long and 6” (16cm) wide.

LEGO BOOST will be available at most stores and online shopping sites where toys are sold, through select consumer electronics retailers, and at LEGO Stores and shop.LEGO.com in the second half of 2017 and will have a suggested retail price of $159.99 USD, €159.99 (EUR) and $199.99 (CAD). For more information, visit www.LEGO.com/BOOST.

About the LEGO Group
The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company with headquarters in Billund, Denmark, and main offices in Enfield, USA, London, UK., Shanghai, China, and Singapore. Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, and based on the iconic LEGO® brick, it is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials. Guided by the company spirit: „Only the best is good enough“, the company is committed to the development of children and aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow through creative play and learning. LEGO products are sold worldwide and can be virtually explored at www.LEGO.com.

Bobbie 1S Robot

DEN HAAG, Netherlands, Dec. 23, 2016 — Anyone searching for a cool personal robot might be interested in Dawody Robotics, Bobbie 1S robot. This cute humanoid robot is voice controlled and can be used as a home guard, personal assistant, educational robot and family member in one.

The robot can be described as a Smartbot. A telephone and robot in one, Bobbie is equipped with a touch screen monitor and a camera that enables it to monitor the house, make calls, surf the web, receive messages and much more.

Bobbie has a simple program, making it easy for young and old to develop new applications for it. The robot has its own, sometimes annoying character that makes him special. Sometimes Bobbie will give surprising answers while having a chat with him. While shooting a promotion video, the founder of Dawody Robotics asked Bobbie who the President is. Bobbie’s answer was that he is officially running for president himself, promising to make Dawody Robotics great again.

Dawody Robotics‘ aim is to introduce Bobbie’s little brother in 2017 in collaboration with a partner company that will truly change the way we look at robots. „Our aim is to have robots in every household in a time span of 5 years from now, just like people have mobile phones nowadays,“ said Safa Dawody, the founder of Dawody Robotics. The price for Bobbie 1S is from $300 USD for the Super Early Birds and will be shipped estimated in March 2017 to its new owners. Who knows, maybe Bobbie 1S will make it to the White House one day.

LINK to Kickstarter

Recently funded, London-based startup, SAM Labs, releases new kit, Curious, entering a new, immersive territory of smart playthings.

After raising $4.5m, led by Imperial Innovations in May 2016, SAM Labs announces the release of a new kit, Curious: an immersive out-of-the-box inventing experience, allowing users to build and program their own cars and games.

Empowering youngsters worldwide to get hands on with smart tech, SAM Labs makes smart construction kits of clever little blocks and a fun app that gives everyone the power of technology to build awesome inventions. With the Curious building blocks and the SAM Space app, you’ll be stretching your imagination to create projects, games, inventions and hacks in no time.

Equipped with five paper-fold car bodies, a car base, and remote control, kids can build and program their own vehicles with SAM, whilst gaining 21st century skills. A step-by-step tutorial booklet, and the informative SAM app, both filled with detailed instructions, will guide you through an array of other smart projects and hacks. The kit even encases an additional booklet with even more offers a diverse range of wireless blocks, that when paired with the app, SAM Space, provides for a fun, experiential, and open-ended learning session.

The kit also comes with its own unique new app: SAM’s Curious Cars. Available across iOS and Google Play, the app, made with Unity, encompasses the ‘connect the dots’ feel of SAM Space, with an added gaming element. Explore challenges and tasks to connect SAM blocks together by playing in both the game and in real life.

The kit will launch for $199 (£149), debuting both in stores, at John Lewis in the United Kingdom and Barnes and Nobles in the United States throughout the month of October, and online on Amazon and on the company’s own site, samlabs.com on the 1st October. CURIOUS buyers will also receive a complimentary 20% off code for their next purchases at samlabs.com.

“Curious is the future of SAM, where creativity can be unleashed through an epic immersive experience. When you think about inventing, you think Curious.” – Joachim Horn, Founder and CEO

Two Bit Circus Launches Kickstarter Campaign for New Maker Kit That Combines ART and STEM to Inspire Creativity in Young Inventors

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Two Bit Circus, an engineering entertainment company, today released a new survey report highlighting the gender gap in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)-based activities for children, revealing art as the key entry point to STEM, especially for girls.

Two Bit Circus recently surveyed an audience of more than 500 parents to understand gender differentiators in how children play and learn in relation to STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) activities. The report uncovers key insights on children’s educational interests and preferences for extracurricular activities and also shows a lack of awareness for STEM/STEAM in general. In fact, 47 percent of parents are unfamiliar with STEM/STEAM toys such as chemistry sets, microscopes, Arduinos, etc. And surprisingly both boys and girls share similar levels of interest in science and math in school, but girls are far more likely to prefer arts and crafts inside and outside of school than boys. This points to why there has been such a strong push for STEAM in order to help close the gender gap in STEM.

Additional key findings from the STEM vs. STEAM: The Gender Gap report include:

  • Parents of both male and female children equally report that their child’s favorite STEAM subject in school is either math (26%) or science (30%)
  • 41% of parents with boys say their child shows the most interest in technology/computing activities outside of school compared to only 18% of parents with girls
  • 45% of parents with girls report their child shows the most interest in art outside of school compared to only 10% of parents with boys
  • 62% of parents say that their child never participates in STEM extracurricular activities outside of school

To drive momentum for the STEAM movement and blend creativity, curiosity and critical thinking to inspire the next generation of inventors, Two Bit Circus is launching a Kickstarter campaign to support the creation of Oomiyu, a paper craft and technology kit. By allowing beginner inventors to build a fun, customized and interactive paper craft robotic owl, kids get hands-on experience with basic mechanical principles, electronics and programming that combined creates a unique STEAM experience. This maker kit is designed to bring art alive through creative innovation, combining art with STEM for a well-rounded and engaging creativity platform.

“Not only does Oomiyu foster a sense of excitement for STEAM by building creative confidence and curiosity in children, it also helps develop critical thinking skills and makes technology more appealing for creative and analytical thinkers alike,” said Two Bit Circus CEO and Co-founder, Brent Bushnell. “By creating this holistic STEAM-based kit, we hope to bring out the makers we know are hidden in every child.”

Oomiyu, a customizable platform, allows children to build, design, customize and program a paper creature to move, respond and emote to various stimuli. A companion mobile app and open source software extend the possibilities even further. Simple connectors make it easy to add new features and the included Arduino 101 packs powerful features like Bluetooth low-energy (enables easy connection to other devices and the internet) and machine learning (enables other pattern matching behaviors).

Also included in the maker kit are off-the-shelf components like LEDs, motors and paper patterns. The new Oomiyu maker kit offers a unique balance of design elements combined with more technical aspects of personalized programming for a craft that lives beautifully with technology.

This crowd-sourced funding campaign hopes to reach its goal of $72,921 USD* within the next 30 days, or about 500 units sold. The cost of Oomiyu is $150.

For more information about Oomiyu visit the Kickstarter campaign page.

About Two Bit Circus

Two Bit Circus is a location-based entertainment company creating the future of fun. The team of artists, inventors, educators and performers builds social games and experiences that aim to inspire, engage and reinvent the way people play. For more information, visit www.twobitcircus.com or follow @TwoBitCircus.

LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 – Project „Mak3rBot“

The Mak3rBot is a LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot that consists of 3D printed Parts. The design is based on Damien Kees RileyRover / Joe Menos Retailrover as this design only needs a few parts. All parts were printed on a Vellemann k8200 3D printer. Most of the parts could be found on Thingiverse, some needed to be exported from Ldraw/LeoCAD. The LEGO ActionCam Camera mount has been designed by Andy Milluzzi. The mission of this robot is to travel to Maker Faires and share the #MINDSTORMSMAGIC with the makers around the world and show them that it is possible to combine LEGO with your maker hobby and create your own parts and robots.

The pictures were taken at Legoworld Utrecht 2016. The Mak3rbot robot and pictures were made by me, Sebastian Trella. Feel free to share pictures or contact me if you need more information or help with creating your own robot.

Plobot is a colorful coding companion that takes programming beyond the computer screen

A revolutionary robot toy helps your kids learn computational thinking through physical play

An educational robotics startup is pioneering a new way of teaching computational thinking and programming through physical interactions with command cards.

How the Plobot platform works

Plobot is an Arduino-based robot learning companion designed for four to eight year-olds. It’s designed to be a child’s first encounter with coding concepts – using cards and storytelling versus syntax and computer screens.

Each command card represents a block of code, directly triggering actions for the robot through its built-in RFID scanner. Kids can make Plobot navigate a maze of obstacles, play music, light up with different colors, sense nearby objects, and much more.

Swiping the cards in sequence strings together a ‘program’ the robot follows, with the „Play“ card working as an execute function. Amplifier cards mimic loops and conditionals, changing the effects of the other cards.

A headstart in computational thinking

By breaking down each task into a sequence of steps, kids exercise problem solving and creative thinking abilities, while picking up core coding concepts such as variables, conditionals, and loops. This helps pave the way for a foundation in computational thinking, and sparks an early interest in computer science.

Plobot can take up to 50 instructions in one sequence. With card expansion packs, Plobot provides countless possible combinations that make it one of the most versatile screen-free coding platforms in the market.

In addition to command cards, Plobot works with ‘stations’, circular pads with labels like ‘school’, ‘ice cream shop, or ‘home’ which serve as goal posts during programming activities and adds a storytelling element to the lessons.

Plobot’s exterior is made of easy to clean plastic, and kids can customize Plobot using stickers, clay, and or attaching Duplo blocks on its back.

 

A Maker’s Journey

Plobot began in 2013 as Rodolfo Cossovich’s side project. Rodolfo is an Argentinian robotics engineer and inventor who teaches robotics at New York University.

“We started with the idea that children learn best through physical play,” Cossovich shares, “The challenge was fundamentally how to make the code-learning experience more interactive and engaging without getting kids in front of computer screens.”

Plobot participated in Make in LA’s hardware tech accelerator to move the project forward. The edtech startup has developed a custom curriculum around Plobot which it has pilot-tested with hundreds of kids in international schools and coding bootcamps in Shanghai, Taipei, Buenos Aires, Washington DC, and other cities over the past year.

“Computational thinking is becoming core literacy for the next generation. Plobot gives kids a headstart. Many parents have described Plobot as a physical version of Scratch. We use this physical coding approach to help kids become better thinkers through play.”

Plobot is set to launch on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter the third week of October at a retail price of $159. An introductory price of $79 (50% off retail price) will be offered to early backers.

The Kickstarter campaign can be found here.