Monday, 19 October 2015

Ohbot2: Kids Robot Head Programmable from Scratch

OhBot2 is a robot head that you can program from a PC. The Kickstarter campaign for the original OhBot was a success and now they're back to fund an updated version.

OhBot is designed to teach computer programming and computational thinking to primary and secondary school children. Whereas most kids robots are vehicles or sci-fi type robots, this robot is much more aligned with the idea of a humanoid android that talks and listens. This makes it somewhat different to other kids programmable robots.

Update: Read our review of OhBot

OhBot has a text to speech capability so kids can program it to say whatever they want. It also has voice recognition capabilities so it can be programmed to have conversations. There are 7 motors that can be programmed to make the head and its various parts move around to interact and express emotions. It's introductory artificial intelligence and robotics for kids.

OhBot can be programmed in a Scratch-like environment which is good. So many kids are learning Scratch now so it makes sense to use the skills they already have. It would be even better if it really was a Scratch extension - we've got so many Scratch-like and Scratch-based environments and my kids always want to mix and match them.

The graphical blocks used to program the motors all use kid-friendly names like HeadTurn rather than motor3 which makes it really intuitive. Kids who know Scratch will definitely pick it up quickly.

The programming environment has a simulated robot head which kids can program. This is really useful for schools and clubs that can't afford lots of robots. You can have lots of children running the simulation and taking turns with the actual robot head.

One of the really interesting features of OhBot is the ability to get data from web services such as information from Wikipedia or the latest weather.

OhBot's head has a simple physical design to keep costs down but it's still recognisably human-like with its big eyeballs and nose. The new version also has lips that can be used to smile or frown. It comes in kit form with colourful instructions so kids get get involved in actually building a robot as well as programming one.

Ohbot2 also has an Arduino-compatible controller board that allows more servos and sensors to be connected. Cool.

Definitely worth a look if you fancy something different to robot vehicles for your family or for a club or school.

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