Sony has finally launched its KOOV robotics kit on Indiegogo, a year after it was supposed to. KOOV is a coding and robotics kit that has modular blocks, sensors and actuators, as well as a programming language to control the robot.
The kit prides itself on not being a simple robotics kit that allows kids to easily make robots. Instead, it intends to teach children about the working of robots and provide them with some exposure to visual programming.
All of this will be provided through a KOOV app which in itself has over 30 hours of kids’ educational content. Kids can use this app to create 23 pre-decided designs which are known as “Robot Recipes” using the 302 block Advanced Kit.
For those who want to explore more, there’s the option to use Robot Recipe Sharing which is the name of an online database containing custom robots built by users, and approved of Sony for its target audience aged 8-14 years.
The kit presently uses small, bright coloured, translucent blocks, which are similar to 3D pixels, a comparison that will allow kids to easily transition from using the mobile app into the real world product.
KOOV is the first hardware product to be released by Sony’s Global Education extension which is putting in a lot of effort to get its first launch right. This is why KOOV has been released on a crowdfunding platform– not to gather money for production, but instead to gain feedback from interested parents before launching it properly.
KOOV comes after Apple’s recent efforts to teach its Swift programming language to kids and Lego’s Boost line which joins the list of educational products released by the company.
There seem to be a few obstacles already for the kit that has just been soft launched. Sony will probably have to make a few tweaks before it launches the product in the future.
A huge difference that Sony must look to overcome is the price difference between its new product and that of its competitor. While Boost is priced at $160, KOOV starts at $359 for the Starter Kit and $499 for the Advanced Kit.
Another issue that has been discovered is with the software and hardware. While Apple’s kit teaches kids to use the same coding language used by iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, Sony’s KOOV has its own coding program that was developed especially for it. This means that this coding cannot be applied elsewhere.
Similarly with the hardware, the product currently uses a micro-controller based on Arduino. While this still has the potential for open-source learning, Sony has locked down the system right now. Maybe with all the feedback it gets on Indiegogo, Sony will make changes to KOOV.
KOOV has been available in Japan for a while now but has only been made available to US audiences now.