Skip to main content

Start ’em young: Vortex robot teaches kids how to program

vortex robot programming education screen shot 2015 07 09 at 9 19 21 pm
Vortex
We tend to teach children skills we deem basic and necessary from a young age — reading, writing, and arithmetic are quickly covered within a child’s first few years of education. But now, with the growing emphasis on STEM, programming languages may soon be just as important as spoken language. Enter Vortex, the robotic toy for kids, that teaches them how to program and how to build their very own technology.

WhenDo for Vortex Demo

The project, now on Kickstarter, is looking to raise $50,000 by August 13, and has already reached nearly a third of its goal, with 127 backers pledging $14,930 thus far. The small, semi-spherical robot comes ready to go straight out of the box, and is meant to be paired with either your Apple or Android smartphone. Preloaded with four games, the Vortex promises hours of entertainment for children, but more importantly, a seriously educational experience as well.

As Vortex notes on its campaign page, “We believe kids can benefit a lot from robotics, in identifying their own challenges, learning how stuff works, solving new problems, motivating themselves to complete a project, working together, inspiring others, and sharing with others. That’s why we created Vortex to be more than just a toy.” The technology behind Vortex and open-source and totally programmable, which means that kids can not only play the installed games, but create new ones of their own.

According to the product page: “Vortex is programmable, and to do it you only need an iPad. Creating a dodgeball game is as simple as dragging and dropping couple of function modules into a visual workspace and tapping upload. Vortex also comes with preset courses that teach how to make use of its built-in capabilities, such as recognizing hand gestures, navigating around obstacles and avoiding drop-offs.”

Today, a single Vortex on Kickstarter will set you back $69, but if you worry that your kids will fight over the little robot (or that you’ll fight with your kid over it), the team is also offering a deal for an Early Bird two-pack of the little machines. And while there is no shortage of kid-friendly robots or technology claiming to get children more interested in computer science, it’s rare that the two meet with such synergy.

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more