Meet Robo Wunderkind, the Lego of the future. This startup is building programmable Lego-like bricks that teach kids how algorithms and code work. It is launching today on stage at Disrupt, and on Kickstarter.
“We are building smart Lego bricks. We are embedding different electronics in the cubes,” co-founder and CEO Rustem Akishbekov told me in a phone interview before Disrupt. “Then, you can simply program your devices with your smartphones and tablets. We created a programming language that is very easy to understand for children. They don’t need to write codes, they just need to drag and drop blocks.”
So what can you do with Robo kits? Well, it depends on you. You can build your own remote control car, for example Each block can do something different. For instance, there are proximity sensors, humidity sensors, motors and more. Connecting these bricks is as simple as putting Lego bricks together — there is no wire or magnet.
The company is aiming to ship during the Summer of 2016, and you can pre-order a kit on Kickstarter today. The basic kit costs $149 and you get 9 cubes — early bird prices are at $79. If you want 15 cubes, it costs $249. Finally, the big kit comes with 25 cubes for $399 — this kit includes a digital camera and a weather sensor. Overall, Robo Wunderkind wants to raise at least $50,000.
“The most established brand in the space is Lego Mindstorms. But it’s for older kids — the programming language is very challenging,” co-founder and COO Anna Iarotska told me. The best part is that Roko kits are compatible with Lego bricks, meaning that you can put a few smart Robo bricks inside a sophisticated Lego vehicle.
You can then connect your Robo Wunderkind bricks to your Android and iOS device via Bluetooth. After that, it’s just a matter of drag and dropping blocks in the app to create simple algorithms. If you want to go to the next step, you can move on to program your robot with Scratch, a programming language designed for kids.
The Vienna-based startup went through hardware accelerator HAX in 2014. If Robo Wunderkind takes off, the company could end up running a community of makers sharing layouts and algorithms. And anything that can make coding less intimidating is a great thing.
Questions & Answers
Question: What can you do on the iPad?
Answer: Solving a maze, make a sound when there’s light in the room.
Q: You can share the programming?
A: We’re implementing this feature.
Q: What about distribution?
A: We’re currently on Kickstarter. After that we plan to sell on our website and through e-commerce. Then we plan to be in store in 2017. We also see a lot of potential selling to schools.
Q: We are you based?
A: We are based in Vienna, Austria. We went to Shenzhen thanks to Hax.