As technology gets smarter, so do toys. Nothing illustrates this better than the newly-released Robo Wunderkind — a modular kit comprised of tech-filled cubes that teach kids STEM skills while they build fun little plug-and-play robots. With a glance at the design you can see Robo Wunderkind is perfect for getting kids started with basic robotics — and it’s already more than doubled its $70,000 funding goal on Kickstarter.
Robo Cubes have been called the new LEGO, but at first glance they look more like classic building blocks from the early childhood section of the toy store. It’s easy to think of them as smart blocks. In fact they’re more like individual robotic modules inside colorful blocks that snap into each other. The blocks connect wirelessly using a unique (and proprietary) system of plates of slotted plugs between the blocks (I2C bus bi-directional). No magnets or wires required (and of course no soldering).
The system module that serves as a creation’s main hub is equipped with an ARM Cortex-A8, 4GB eMMc storage, Wi-Fi connectivity, a microphone, and a speaker. The system module’s 1500mAh battery runs a robot for about two hours and takes a micro USB charge when it’s dead. Separate battery modules or blocks are an option for larger robots.
Other Robo Cubes or blocks contain different innards, and allow for different robotic functions. Light, infrared, and proximity sensors, a motor, servos, Bluetooth, and a battery, an accelerometer, laser pointer, LED and E-ink displays are all available as individual color-coded blocks.
As if that wasn’t cool enough, the Robo Wunderkind kits on Kickstarter also come with LEGO adapters, so your kid can use his/her existing blocks to make additions and custom shapes. But of course, building the robot is only part of the fun. Robo Wunderkind creations can also be controlled via an iOS or Android app on any Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled device. Designed with kids as young as five in mind, the interface has very few words and is mostly picture-based. Tap and drag commands to change the robot’s behavior.
With the right combination of modules, a Robo Cube robot could be pretty intuitive. It can predict the weather, react to noise, solve mazes, and act as a remote camera. Those are just a few examples — the only limits are which cubes you’ve got on hand and the size of your imagination.
Older kids can use Scratch, a programming language created by the MIT Media Lab that’s specifically designed for children. Creators can share their builds of all kinds of interactive programming online with an established community. Anyone with the skills can use the open API to build in the programming language they want.
All the super early bird rewards are gone, but you can still grab a Starter Kit for $150, an Advanced Kit for $250, or a Professional Kit for $500. The campaign ends Friday Oct 30 with plans to deliver July 2016.