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Is this Dash and Dot or the star of the next Pixar movie?  Wonder Workshop's Dash and Dot aim to make programming and coding accessible and fun for kids. (via WonderWorkshop)

 

The holidays are coming up faster than you can carve a turkey, which means it's time to get gifts again. If you have a little one with an interest in technology you may want to look into the Dash and Dot. So what is it? Dash and Dot are small circular robots created by the startup Wonder Workshop, which aims to teach kids the basics of computer programming. With their simple, cute design – blue and orange with one eye – the bots are sure to catch the eye of inquisitive little ones. The Dash and Dot robots can sense objects around them to prevent bumping into walls and respond to light and sound. Dash actually has distance sensors  along with three microphones to catch sound direction. Dot on the other hand, has an accelerometer to detect movement.

 

If you haven't noticed, Dash and Dot have a somewhat unconventional design when it comes to robots. What's behind the design choice? The way that the head and eye move independent of the body, that drives engagement,” says CEO Vikas Gupta. “We also wanted it to be something kids could imagine as anything -- we didn't want it to be something they were already familiar with like a four-legged animal or two-legged human -- so it has three legs...and one eye.

 

Dash and Dot works in conjunction with four different apps that hope to teach programming and coding lessons to kids through music, mazes, paths, and puzzles. The kids will think they're playing games when they're really getting a handle on computer programming. There's even the option of giving the robot new abilities with various snap on accessories, such as a launcher, xylophone, smartphone mount, bunny ears, and bulldozer bar. And parents if you want to get in on the action you can try making iOS and Android applications for the robots through Wonder Workshop's open API.

 

The two robots together will cost you $259, but there is a cheaper option. The company recently made Dot – the one eyed bot – available separately for only $50. Keep in mind it can't race around the room since it doesn't have the wheels, but it's a much more reasonable price for anyone who wants to give robotics a try. Dot can however, react with lights and sounds to hearing voices, being rocked, and having its different buttons pressed. Both models connect to Apple and Android devices via Bluetooth and are easily charged by a computer.

 

To make the device a reality Wonder Workshop raised $1 million in seed funding before launching a crowdfunding campaign in October 2013. The effort proved to be a success, they raised $250,000 in four days and raised $1.4 million by the end. The company has since raised an additional $8 million in Series a Funding.

 

With so many bots and programs dedicated to teaching kids the basics of computer programming, one begins to question is it necessary to start so young. It's great these products and services are out there, but is this really about the kids or more about the parents who want their kids to be the next Steve Jobs (more like Woz)? Only time will tell.



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