Makeblock’s Codeybot Toy Outpaces Kickstarter Funding Goal

(Photo: Codeybot)

(Photo: Codeybot)

A brand new robot has the ability to dance, play music, change colors, and shoot laser beams, all in an effort to help children become interested in programming.

Shenzhen-based startup Makeblock is responsible for the coding toy, which is the newest product in edutainment. Past efforts in the code-teaching toy field include a talking, projectile-firing robot, a remote-controlled origami robot, code-teaching drones, as well as a "Code-a-pillar" — but Codeybot aims to be different.

"I think coding is a useful path to creation, for children especially," adds CEO Jasen Wang. "In this information age, coding became a useful and important method – children can make their ideas come true by coding. Moreover, learning coding could cultivate children's logical thinking abilities and enhance their problem-solving abilities."

Only 24 hours after launching on Kickstarter last week, the Codeybot had already reached almost 90% of its $100,000 funding goal. It has currently gone past its goal, with over 800 backers contributing around $137,000, and still has another month to go. The toy is expected to be sent out to customers this August.

The Codeybot looks like a triangular piece of cheese on wheels. It self-balances and features a remote control app. The toy comes with an LED screen that displays messages and funny faces from the user's smartphone and repeats what the user says in a cartoon voice.

The mBlocky app hopes to teach some of the principles of coding by allowing users to place graphic blocks from an iPad to the program Codeybot. Doing so offers users a chance to get a feel for how coding is accomplished.

The app is based on Google's Blockly library used for building visual programming editors. Creators believe that it will allow children to form a basis for learning additional programming languages as well as creative problem solving.

The toy comes with some fun features too, including taking voice commands to play music over wifi, dance to music, make silly voices, and shoot lasers, so long as the user has the laser add-on and access to the battle mode, which requires two of the devices.

The Codeybot is based on a previous project from Makeblock called Gemini, which the company pulled after it only met 25% of its funding goals through crowdsourcing, writes Elaine Ramirez for Mashable.

According to the makers of the robot, the Codeybot is an "improved version of Gemini," but did not mention how it differs. They did say that the robot features a battle mode, allowing users to let their bots compete against each other. The team believes this feature will become extremely popular.

The startup, founded in 2011, did see success with three of its four Kickstarter projects. While the Gemini failed, the other two toys, a self-assembly robot called mDrawBot that features pencils, and a simple Arduino-powered mBot, each were successful, reports Steven Millward for TechInAsia.

The Codeybot can be purchased on Kickstarter for a price of $99, and requires an iPhone or iPad to use the Codeybot app. The mBlockly app is currently only available for iPad.

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