Play-i bots teach tots how to program

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With just a few taps on a tablet screen, children as young as 5 are programming a pair of robots called Bo and Yana using a simple GUI. Looking a bit like the cute one-eyed monsters from a Pixar film, the bots are the flagship products of a start-up called Play-i, founded by a team with experience at Amazon and Apple. In just two days, the company has nearly reached its crowdfunding goal of US50,000, with plans to send out the first batch in the northern summer of 2014.

Many of us grew up with the odd remote-controlled toy or video game, but how they worked was often totally opaque. Educational robotic toys like Lego Mindstorms give kids the chance to learn what makes these things tick. What separates Bo and Yana from the pack is their ease of programming. Kids simply launch the Play-i app on a tablet (iOS and Android will be supported) to begin experimenting with icons representing different functions. As kids play, they’ll begin to connect the dots (and functions) to create more complex actions.

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