Hungarian start-up Codie Labs has created a programmable robot toy that teaches children how to code. Codie, which won the wild card award at London tech event TechCrunch Disrupt (December 7-8), looks like a small wooden tank and is controlled via programmes the user writes in an app.
Aimed at children aged from six to 15, Codie introduces programming concepts through a simple app interface with colourful blocks, which can be dragged and dropped to make the toy perform various movements.
The blocks allow actions such as "turn", "decide", "wait" and "sound". These can be customised further to adjust the speed, distance and colour. The app's programming language teaches coding concepts including looping and "if, then, else..." decisions. When a child completes a programme, they can name it and save it for future use.
The robot has internal proximity sensors, a light-emitting diode (LED) that changes colours, and two rotating treads for easy navigation of uneven surfaces. It will become available to the public by Christmas 2015, priced at $216.
Coding for children continues to be an area of focus for game developers and education experts, who are recognising the need to establish strong levels of digital literacy from an early age. For more innovative approaches to education, see The Future of Learning and Wired 2015.