This Robot Grows with Children

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Imagine your child learning to code before she can even read a book. Thanks to Polish startup Photon Entertainment, kids may soon have access to a toy that lays the foundations for a lifelong understanding of programming and computer science.

This week the group launched its Kickstarter campaign to bring Photon, a coding robot, to mass market. They have already raised over $26,000 of the $35,000 they need in order to cover initial production costs.

According to the company’s website, Photon is the first robot in the world capable of developing alongside children as their cognitive functions evolve. The toy is designed to aid in logical thinking, programming basics, social skills, and memory improvement.

“We’re not teaching a specific language, and instead focus on developing a proper mindset, and explaining how modern technology works,” one of Photon Entertainment’s founders, Martin Joka, explained to Business Insider.

Apart form Joka, the team consists of Chris Dziemanczuk, Michael Grzes (known for award-winning work on Mars rover Hyperion 2), Mike Bogucki, and Maciej Kopczynski.

Initially, Photon cannot accomplish any tasks on his own, but he gives friendly challenges to children. As kids play they acquire experience points, which can then be used to “unlock” the robot’s sensors. Photon’s sensors enable it to see, hear, discern light from dark, feel, and gauge distances.

“Each new sensor starts as an experimental subject,” Joka said. “Kids check what does it do, and then write simple programs in a visual language inspired by MIT’s Scratch, built with the youngest users in mind.”

Photon is integrated with an app for smartphones and tablets that tells the story of how he crash-landed on Earth after his spaceship collided with an asteroid. Each challenge that children help him to overcome brings him one step closer to repairing his ship and returning home.

The toy operates effectively as an encouraging learning tool for critical thinking, allowing kids to create simple programs that result in immediate upgrades for the robot.

“This way, progress is visible right away and works as wonderful motivational tool,” the team wrote. “It’s not just another toy, it’s a true friend and companion.”