Phiro is a LEGO-compatible robotics toy that kids can play, code and innovate in various ways.
Research shows that one of the most effective ways for kids to learn problem-solving is through robotics and coding. This is an area that sisters Deepti Suchindran and Aditi Prasad — who are the founders of Boston-based startup Robotix — hope Phiro can play an integral role. The LEGO-compatible kit will enable the future generation to program and solve challenges in a more engaging and interactive manner, whether that includes making a movie or cleaning their room.
Robotix has acquired many years of experience teaching coding and robotics to several K-12 schools. Along the way, they have discovered that such gadgets are usually expensive, use proprietary programming languages and are not so fun for its young user base. Instead, the team is looking to change that with an affordable robotics toy that will assist kids in learning to code and develop computational thinking skills. Young Makers will be able to enhance their coding skills in five different ways, either without a computer or with open source programming languages.
With Phiro, children can play music, create games, flash lights, detect faces and much more. The combination of programming and playing with such a toy will empower the next generation to pursue STEM-related disciplines and to become the innovators of tomorrow.
And so, Robotix has launched a pair of ATmega2560 powered robots for two different age groups: Phiro Unplugged and Phiro Pro. Both units come fully assembled and are ready for use right out of the box. First, Phiro Unplugged is designed for those between the ages of four and eight, and is an excellent instructional tool for sequential programming and binary coding. The best part is that it can all be achieved without a computer. Meanwhile, Phiro Pro has shares many of the same qualities as the Unplugged and then some.
Geared towards Makers between nine to 18, users can program their bot with a computer, tablet or smartphone, which connects wirelessly over Bluetooth to an assortment of programming languages: Scratch 2.0 (MIT), Snap4Arduino (UC Berkeley/Citilab) and Pocket Code mobile apps (Graz University of Technology). Learners can link to an online community that will encourage collaboration, sharing, and of course, more education.
Perhaps one of its greatest selling points is its LEGO compatibility. For instance, Phiro lets you transform your robot into a bull dozer or snow plow with LEGO attachments, and command it to navigate your room and clean your things!
“Be endlessly creative and transform Phiro into an animal, alien, car, join your tea party, or anything you imagine with Phiro’s LEGO-compatible connector. Kids can personalize their own Phiro robots,” the Robotix crew writes. “Want speed? Create code for a remote control in Scratch 2.0, Snap4Arduino, Pocket Code mobile app’s and gear up Phiro with LEGO parts and watch your race car go!”
Want an awesome bot of your own? Head over to Phiro’s Kickstarter campaign, where Robotix is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is slated for May 2016.