Children 6 years and upwards can now learn programming while they play with Vortex, the robot. Designed by DFRobot, the robot plays different games, but it doesn’t just sit there. The robot comes with interactive tools for the children to learn while they play.
The Vortex is an Arduino-based bot that connects to Android and iOS devices. Currently doing a stint on Kickstarter for a crowdfunding campaign, Vortex promises to be a state of the art play mate for children, effectively teaching them how to program. Games such as Golf, Driving, Soccer and Bumping Fight, a sumo wrestling game of sorts for multiple Vortex’s are pre-programmed in the robot.
But what makes Vortex a truly inspirational teacher is the app that it comes with. The app is intuitive, with a graphical programming layout with a drag and drop option. The children can use the touch screen to graphically learn how programs work and set a baseline for future coding adventures at an early age. Vortex is filled with courses to teach a number of things to their human play mates.
The robot itself is tech crunched with ground and proximity sensors, speed encoders, and LED, and speakers. The robot senses with its army of gadgets but responds with a display screen for eyes, that can portray 32 expressions in total. Interface options are open to expansion through an I2c socket. Powered by AA-sized batteries, the robot runs for around 40-90 minutes and offers Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.
With the programming tools, Vortex can be made to do various tasks. It can follow lines, recognize hand gestures, navigate around obstacles and avoid drop-offs.
The creators have kept Vortex open source so its not just the children who get to play with it. Programmers can get their hands dirty and add more features to the rob, which the creators openly welcome.
Backers can pledge US$69 for one Vortex, or $119 for a pair and enjoy the robot’s edutainment first-hand and add to it too, by October this year if all goes to plan.