January 8, 2015
While smart technology and the Internet of Things have been touted as the some of the primary themes at International CES 2015, they're not the only fields in which new innovations are being created to provide practical solutions to everyday life. At this year's CES, it's clear that progress in robotics has yet to slow down. In particular, when it comes to utilizing technology to engage kids in learning, companies proved that kids educational robots not only succeed in delivering results, but do so in ways much more engaging than through current ed tech initiatives.
Software may be a big opportunity for both large companies and startups to disrupt education – with new apps and games created every year to take on issues of literacy, math and science knowledge deficiency, and lack of critical thinking – but when it comes to keeping kids engaged, hardware may just be the future of ed tech. At this year's CES, there were some great kids educational robots that could potentially challenge the dominance of some of the best educational software.
Check out the best kids educational robots at CES 2015:
This little guy is a smart robot that teaches kids how to code, engages them in deductive reasoning, and gives them a greater understanding of robotics overall. Kids can program Ozobot to move around or engage in more complicated actions like dancing or playing. By simply drawing color-coded line patterns – called “OzoCodes” – OzoBot is programmed to associate specific movements with certain colors. Additionally, kids can use the accompanying software to learn the basics of coding to program Ozobot to learn specific actions.
These are so.cool. Created by Modular Robotics, Cubelets are like your standard building blocks except they aren't because each block is a robot. Essentially, it's a simple way to create a functional robot using a combination of different blocks. The kits will come between six and 20 blocks and each block falls into one of three categories: Think, Action, or Sense. Think blocks are the robots programmed to serve as ones giving a directive to the corresponding blocks – they have math or logic functions that enable this; Action blocks, well, perform actions; and Sense blocks are capable of responding to different sights, sounds, or touches. Cubelets are powerful kids educational robots that will enable kids to think logically while they're building.
Roboblock has actually been around for a few years, but they were at this year's CES showing off their various robot kits. Their basic kits allow kids to get engaged in rudimentary robotics, with some even more advanced kits to support kids' growth in interest and skill.
Created by Wonder Workshop, these two robots are built to teach kids simple coding skills. Using the accompanying free app, kids can start off creating simple actions for Dash and Dot using Blockly, a visual programming language created by Google. For kids already with a firmer understanding of programming, Wonder Workshop's open API lets them build iOS and Android applications for Dash and Dot using Objective C and Java. Dash and Dot have various sensors to allow them to detect certain objects. Parents can choose to purchase additional accessories for the robots, including a xylophone and a smartphone mount.
From Innvo Labs, PLEO rb is a next-generation robotic pet that teachers kids a little about biology and life cycles. An upgrade from the initial PLEA model, PLEO rb essentially plays the role of a real, living pet, excepting its obvious robotic insides. It's an intelligent “toy” that responds to kids' level of engagement – depending on how kids choose to interact with them, PLEO rb can turn out useless and without skills or into a self-sufficient dinosaur who's learned to respond to things in its environment.
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