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.

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.

Cars

Mercedes-Benz predicts cars will evolve more in the next decade than ever before

Mercedes-Benz lead designer Gorden Wagener needs to push the company's design language further without diluting it. Digital Trends sat down with Wagener to gain insight into how Mercedes-Benz design will evolve as cars become more…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Hi-viz bike reflectors and a tiny flashlight

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!
Health & Fitness

My niece lost her hearing. This is a story about how technology brought it back

For people with profound hearing loss, cochlear implants can restore sound. We explore what the procedure entails, how the system works, and take a look at the latest developments from Australian company Cochlear.
Smart Home

Make Alexa your own: How to change the digital assistant’s voice

If you live in a country where English is not the primary language, or you're learning a second language and want to get all the practice you can get, you can set Alexa's default language to one of nine other languages.
Emerging Tech

Forget police helicopters, California cops are using drones to spot suspects

Police drones deployed by California’s Chula Vista Police Department helped lead to the arrest of 20 suspects over a three-month study. It's a glimpse of the future of drones in law enforcement.
Smart Home

Ford’s ingenious bed for couples keeps mattress hogs in their own half

Drawing on its driverless-car technology, Ford has created a smart bed for couples that uses sensors and a conveyor belt to prevent either occupant from straying onto the other half of the mattress while they doze.
Emerging Tech

Own a drone? New rule means you have to change the way IDs are displayed

Registered drone owners will need to put their machine's ID number on the outside of the aircraft from February 23 in accordance with a new FAA rule. It means the ID can no longer be placed inside the drone's battery compartment.
Emerging Tech

After Kepler kicks the bucket, NASA releases its final image

The final images from the Kepler Space Telescope have arrived. After nearly a decade of operation, NASA’s groundbreaking telescope ran out of fuel last year and was placed into permanent sleep mode on October 30, 2018.
Emerging Tech

Caltech’s bird-inspired robot uses thrusters to help stay on its feet

Researchers from Caltech have developed a new bird-inspired robot that uses thrusters on its torso to help it to walk with more stability. Here's why that challenge is so important.
Mobile

T-Mobile says Sprint merger will boost 5G speeds by up to 6 times

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

Groundbreaking new technique can turn plastic waste into energy-dense fuel

The world has a waste plastic problem. Chemists from Purdue University have a potentially game changing solution: They want to turn it into a gasoline or diesel-like fuel. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

After a record-setting 15 years, NASA ends Opportunity rover’s tour of Mars

NASA has officially called it quits on its record-setting Mars rover Opportunity, eight months after last hearing from the lander. The Rover landed on the Red Planet in early 2004.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘Refabricator’ lets astronauts recycle 3D-printed tools to make new ones

The International Space Station just received a fancy new gadget in the form of a Refabricator, a machine capable of 3D printing using recycled plastic materials. Here's how it works.