Can You Imagine a World Where Your Children Can Build Robots? Lego Can
We live in an amazing age we couldn’t possibly have foreseen twenty years ago. People can jump out of a spaceship and soar back to earth while drinking Red Bull, and cars now park themselves. Technology has a firm grip on pretty much every aspect of our day-to-day lives, so it comes as no surprise that it’s trickling down to the world of toys. Millennials, maybe more than any other previous generation, saw a huge shift in the way they play. The video game console was a huge breakthrough. We went from playing with blocks to playing virtual reality games. And now, moving past the Gen Zers and into the next generation, things are only going to get more intricate and amazing in the kids, babies, and toys industry.
One of the most groundbreaking toys of the year thus far is Lego Boost. These intelligent robotic toys are a mix of classic Lego blocks and programmable robotics which allow the final products to move. The aim of the product is to get kids (7 years old and up) excited about programming and coding. One of the biggest dreams of every Lego builder is for the final product to come to life. With this new system, the consumer’s dream is realized, but also gets them to dig in and create their own reality.
So… how does it work?
There is a piece in each kit called the Move Hub which is a stud-covered brick with a tile sensor built into it. This block forms the base component for the robots. It is then paired with a small motor and an intuitive sensor which controls all of their movements – sort of like the brain of the robot. The consumer downloads a free app which walks them through building instructions as well as very simple coding instructions laid out in a user-friendly manner. The interface is laid out like the beloved process consumers’ are used to building with Lego by having the users “link digital coding blocks in a horizontal layout”. The goal of the toy – as is often case for the Danish block builder’s products – is to make the experience as fun as it is intelligence-building.
Lego isn’t alone – this is a industry-wide trend
Many other kids toy companies are also venturing into the tech realm. The UBTECH Jimu Robot DIY Buzzbot/Muttbot Robotics Kit. Similarly set up to the Lego Boost system, this toy is made of snap-together robotic parts that are controlled from an app. The Anki Overdrive System is a modern take on slot car racing tracks. There are even toys that go a step further in the pursuit of teaching child consumers to learn while having fun. The Kano “do-it-yourself” computer building kits are geared toward kids and aim to teach them how to build a machine and code. Each kit comes with varying levels of instructed coding tutorials to help the user learn the ins and outs of introductory coding, while enjoying the act of building a functional (albeit simple) computer system.
Despite the growing movement of getting kids to “unplug” and get back to the basics of riding a bike or other outdoor adventures, the tech segment of the toy market is growing fast. This is just the tip of the iceberg of tech based toys for children consumers as STEM gains momentum in the industry.