As previously explored on Bits & Pieces, the Maker Movement has paved the way for new gizmos and gadgets in an effort to increase awareness around STEM and lower the barrier of entry for coding. UX design from Slice of Lime has now taken the initiative one step further with their latest connected toy prototype, dubbed Nübi, which aims to teach basic programming skills to kids of any gender.
Nübi is described by its creator, Slice of Lime CEO Kevin Menzie, as an Internet-enabled toy that takes the form of a creature who just arrived on our planet and needs to be taught about everything, from colors to music to temperature.
“All of the teaching and programming of Nübi is done through a magic flower, specially-designed Nübicards, and Nübi itself. There are no screens or other electronics involved.”
The toy is embedded with a series of sensors that enable it to wirelessly communicate like an RFID chip with other devices in its environment, such as a motion detector or light sensor. Kids use an accompanying flower-like wand, equipped with an [Atmel based] Arduino-controlled RFID reader, to talk to Nübi.
Using the wand-like device, kids begin with basic color mixing and sounds, and eventually learn to customize Nübi to react to light and dark, hot and cold, motion, as well as other Nübis.
There are four types of Nübicards: Program Nübicards, Sense Nübicards, Action Nübicards, and Game Nübicards. These aid a user in teaching the connected toy what to do. Simply touch the flower to the Nübicard and then touch Nübi’s head.
For instance, if a child wants to teach Nübi about colors, they would tap the wand against the specific color Nübicard, then touch it the Atmel powered flower. An LED located in its stomach would then emit the color selected. Tap the wand on a pair of colors in succession, and Nübi will even glow the color they make when they’re combined. Come on, that’s so much better than simply mixing paint, not to mention, less messy!
There are also more sophisticated cards as well, which include IFTTT recipes. Using these conditional statements, young Makers can begin programming their Nübi to carry out more complex actions, ranging from glowing blue when it’s cold outside or playing a lullaby when the lights turn off.
Interested in a Nübi for your child? You can check out Nübi’s official website here. Or, you can read more about the connected toy in its latest Gizmodo article.