In just two years, a small technology start-up known as Wonder Workshop attracted some $14.6 million in venture-capital funding and generated tens of thousands of sales. It’s mission: creating robots that teach children to code.
With its robots Dot and Dash, Wonder Workshop is trying to get children into computer programming by making it easy and fun to learn. Its robots are sold together for $229.99, while Dash costs $169.99.
Back in 2013, Wonder Workshop, which was then known as Play-i, received some $1.5 million worth of pre-orders in just a month for its pair of programmable robots. The company’s founder and CEO, Vikas Gupta, wanted to create something accessible to children as young as five, as most robotics kits are designed for older children.
To keep costs down, the two robots Dash and Dot were designed as spherical robots, instead of humanoids. The makers wanted them to be affordable to a larger group of people and to give children flexibility as to how they wanted to use them. Children can transform the kit into anything they imagine it to be, whether a monster, an animal, or a ghost. While the robot has wheels, it doesn’t resemble a truck or a car.
Wonder Workshop has also created apps to make it easy for children to control the robots. The four free apps used to control Dot and Dash for Android and iOS devices are Go, Path, Xylo and Blockly. They all connect to the robots using Bluetooth.
One of the easiest apps to use is Go, which lets children control lights, sounds and movement. They can also record an audio. Path, on the other hand, allows kids to draw a path on the screen than can then be mimicked by Dash in reality.
The more advanced app, Blockly, teaches kids how to code so they can make Dash drive, move his head, light up in different patterns, make sounds and respond to obstacles, movement and nearby voices or clapping.
Gupta’s aim is to take kids away from simply coding on screen to seeing the results of their coding come to life.