A look at six educational robots for kids that will be popular toys when they come to market in 2017.
1. Lego Boost Robotics Kit
Shipping: Second half of 2017
Lego is a household name when it comes to robotics kits. The Lego Mindstorms is perhaps the most popular robotics kit for experienced builders.
At CES 2017, Lego introduced its Lego Boost kit to introduce younger, less experienced kids to the basics of programming. Lego Boost combines building blocks with sensors, motors, and Android/iOS app control to let kids build five robots – Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4, and Autobuilder – that can respond to stimulii. The Lego Boost base starter comes with the Move Hub, a distance/color sensor, a motor, and 843 Lego bricks.
2. WowWee Elmoji Coding Robot
Shipping: Q3/Q4 of 2017
WowWee Robotics and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, are co-developing the Elmoji Coding Robot. Designed for children three years and older, Elmoji teaches children basic programming skills using the “language” of visual emojis.
Elmoji, an abbreviation for Elmo and his Emoji friends, uses a free app guides early readers and pre-readers to test their problem-solving skills and play games that control Elmoji’s actions. Elmoji also reacts to physical stimulation such as tilting and shaking, with dynamic sounds and thousands of animations on his LCD screen.
A 2015 study found that kids who watch “Sesame Street” do better in elementary school. In fact, the study said “Sesame Street” may be the biggest and most affordable early childhood intervention out there, at a cost of just a few dollars per child per year. So coding robots and Sesame Street characters make a perfect combo.
3. Hanson Robotics Professor Einstein
Shipping: April 2017
Professor Einstein is a scaled-down version of Hanson Robotics’ human-size Einstein HUBO robot. Professor Einstein is a 14.5-inch-tall, Wi-Fi-connected edutainment robot that walks, talks, and acts as your friend and personal science tutor.
Professor Einstein won’t necessarily teach kids about coding, but it uses the Stein-O-Matic app for tablets (Android/iPad) to teach science lessons and play learning games. When you place the tablet next to Professor Einstein, he will guide you through the interactive lessons, which include daily mental kick starts, space travel, time travel and more. It can communicate with you in both online and offline modes.
It’s voice is a little rough, but the robot is quite engaging. For example, when asking about the weather, Professor Einstein will explain how you can tell the current temperature by counting the number of cricket chirps.