Play-i aims to make programming, robots, and engineering fun for children

startup playi robot program engineering kids play i

Worried that your kid won’t acquire the skills they need to help them soar in an increasingly tech-driven world? You’re not the only one.

Vikas Gupta, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur, has the same fears. He didn’t waste much time simply wallowing in his worries though; he set out to do something about it.

Gupta is a founding member of Play-i, a startup that’s focused on making things like robotics, programming, and engineering fun, interesting and engaging for kids as young as five years old. Based in Mountain View, Calif., the robots of Play-i, dubbed Bo and Yana, are both controllable and customizable. Bo and Yana can be programmed to create sounds, sing songs play games like tag and even sports like soccer. By the time the robots are released, kids will be able to control them using Android and iOS devices via Bluetooth 4.0.

The actual programming done by kids is visually based and combines music, stories, and animation, according to the official Play-i site. Think of the programming tasks as interactive cartoons that give your kids the building blocks of programming. However, once the user gets a handle on programming, Play-i claims that they’ll be able to write their own code. The company states that while Bo and Yana work great together, they’re also just as fun to play with and program independently of each other. However, Play-i does say that getting both Bo and Yana allows for “more advanced gameplay and new programming challenges.”

Play-i hopes to start shipping its programmable robots in summer 2014, and the company has already achieved more than half of their funding goal ($140,939 of $250,000 as of this writing). Though it’s unclear how much it will cost to get your child their own programmable Play-i robots at this point, it’ll be interesting to see whether programmable robots aimed at kids catches on and becomes the new, educational Tickle Me Elmo-type rage by the time next year’s holiday shopping season rolls around.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Don't use streaming apps? These are the best free players for your local music

Rather than using music streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

Playing ‘Battlefield V’ on an $800 Nvidia card is stunning. And disappointing

‘Battlefield V’ is the first game to use Nvidia’s ray tracing support, now available with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. The feature can, in an ideal scenario, make the game look better, but the performance hit may not be…
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…

HP takes $100 off of leather-clad Spectre Folio 13 bundle for Black Friday

HP is offering a discount to Black Friday shoppers for a bundle that includes its leather-wrapped answer to Apple's MacBook Air. HP is offering a $100 discount on the Spectre Folio 13 when bundled with a mouse and leather sleeve.

Save a heap with these Black Friday 2018 graphics card deals

The Black Friday 2018 sales period is finally here and it's brought with it a tonne of great component deals. We've been scouring websites and catalogs for days to find you the best graphics cards deals for Black Friday 2018.

The best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

Ditch the passwords and buy Xbox games with just your face

Passwords are the past. The latest version of Windows 10 allows you to sign in with your Microsoft account on the web through Microsoft Edge using Windows Hello or a FIDO 2 Yubikey. 

Canceling Amazon Prime is easy, and you might get a refund

Don't be intimidated. Learning how to cancel Amazon Prime is easier than you might think. You might even get a partial or full refund on the cost, depending on how much you've used it. Check out our quick-hit guide for doing so.

Editing a PDF is easy when you have the right tools in hand

Editing PDF files can be a real pain, but there are a few tricks to make the process a bit easier. This guide will give you three easy methods for how to edit a PDF, two of which work without needing Adobe Acrobat.