Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Programmable Robots for Young Students

play-i logo Play-I is a new start up using crowd funding to develop a pair of programmable robots for young students. I have a thing for robots. And these robots are pretty cute.
Play-Is robots are called Bo and Yana. That’s Bo on the left and Yana on the right in the image below.

Bo is an explorer. He is playful and curious. He loves going on adventures and making new friends. As you play with him, Bo learns new skills and becomes a more Bo_Yanacapable robot. Together, there's no stopping where you and Bo can go.
Yana is a storyteller. She is clever and imaginative. She hasn't found her wings yet but she is full of dreams. Yana can surprise you and entertain you — with characters brought to life with gestures! Use the power of your imagination to unlock her potential.
Play-i is creating a visual programming environment for its robots on touch devices for kids, that meets children at their level of cognitive ability and motor skills, starting as early as age five. Unlike other programming languages where children are first taught the syntax, Play-i focuses on learning through exploration, play and discovery.
I find the ideas here somewhat reminiscent of Kodu but with physical robots rather than virtual ones. Cute robots, simple user/programming interface and an emphasis on learning by exploring. From what I am reading there will be an API that will work with most devices that support Bluetooth 4 networking protocols. That suggests some interesting experiences for more advanced programmers as well.
It all sounds good and they have some good academic advisors including people who have done a lot of work with Lego Mindstorms and Alice. I find that encouraging. We’ll have to see how it works out with students at homes and in schools.

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