Play-i’s Bo and Yana: Toys that Teach Computer Programming

Posted on Nov 27, 2013 in Play | No Comments
Play-i’s Bo and Yana: Toys that Teach Computer Programming

Play-i is an upstart Silicon Valley company with a mission: make computer programming accessible and fun for children as young as five years old. The company’s four founders, all with impressive credentials in tech and design — and all parents — set out to provide an engaging way for curious kids to kickstart an interest in programming and give them a leg up with a complex language that could very well be the dominant vocabulary of the future. Enter Play-i’s Bo and Yana: toys that teach computer programming and encourage children to be creators, not just consumers, of technology.

Image: Bo and Yana



[Photo credit: Play-i]

Bo and Yana are compact and cute robots for kids. They connect wirelessly to a mobile device using Bluetooth technology, so kids can use a tablet or other device to string together commands for Bo and Yana with the Play-i app. Music, storytelling and puppeteering encourage kids to experiment with what Bo and Yana can do, and the programming possibilities grow along with each child’s comfort level.

Kids 5 to 8 years old are encouraged to tweak existing code through music, stories and animation. For the 8 – 12 year old set, mini-programmers can graduate to visual programming languages like Scratch and Blockly to make more complex demands of Bo and Yana. And for the 12+ crowd, who are ready to add some serious code writing to their playtime, it’s even possible to build applications for iOS and Android with the help of Play-i’s API.

Check out Bo on the the xylophone — one of many accessories that increase the challenge for pre-teen programmers. Each robot has a distinct personality — Bo moves on three wheels, and clip-on accessories mean he can move blocks, deliver a flower, or connect – literally – to Yana.  Yana reacts to being shaken, tapped or rolled, and can be programmed to make sounds or light up in reaction to a particular stimulus. Bo can also recognize Yana, or another Bo, so that the robots can play soccer, tag — even hide-and-seek (I see you, Yana!)

Images: Bo with xylophone, Playing Hide-and-seek, With play blocks, Accessories

  • Bo_Xylophone
  • Bo_Yana_HideSeek
  • Bo-Plus_Lego
  • accessories

[Photo credit: Play-i]

Play-i was founded in 2012 by Vikas Goupta, Mikal Greaves, Saurabh Gupta and Imran Khan — four creators with previous experience at Apple, Amazon, and Frog Design, all with a desire to fill what they perceived as a need: create a product that introduces even young children to the world of computer programming as a creative tool, without needing any previous knowledge (in fact, without even needing to know how to read or write!) The robots are currently available for pre-order through the company’s crowd funding campaign, and are set for general release in summer, 2014.

Check out Play-i’s video to see how Bo and Yana’s four creators envision these two little robots as leaders in the field of computer programming for children.

[Credit: Play-i – Delightful Robots for Children to Program]

It’s your turn. Share with us your thoughts on Bo and Yana in the comments below.

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