The toy robot wars are heating up. The latest contestant? Cubetto, a wood-skinned bot with some deep industry backing.
Cubetto is a Montessori approved programming toy specifically designed for pre-literate children, ages three and older, that teaches the basics of computer programming and STEM skills without the use of a screen.
The Cubetto Playset consists of a wooden (no, seriously) robot, a physical programming console with a set of 16 coding blocks, and a map and activity book to get users started. It can be used by sighted and non-sighted children in the same setting, and that's been a big selling point. We've reached a moment when educational robots are starting to segment in a big way.
A beta version of the product is used by more than 300 schools and 500 families in over 40 countries worldwide. Now Cubetto is back on Kickstarter, and results have been good. The little blockhead has raised nearly half a million dollars with three weeks to go.
The idea behind Cubetto, and all the other toy robots, is to help kids learn to code.
"Learning to program in early years is essential, but it should also be fun, playful and age appropriate," said Filippo Yacob, Co-Founder & CEO of Cubetto. "Our mission is to help children develop and realize their full creative potential. Cubetto is an open-ended toy that makes learning computer programming fun and easy to grasp." Once again, I protest being given nothing but paper and some paints as a kid, but selah.
Cubetto and the other toy bots arrive at a time when many school curriculums require students to learn computing from five years old and up. Controversially (I've gotten into heated Twitter convos about this) schools are starting to use toys to teach STEM skills.
However, many children still lack exposure to the fundamentals of computer science at a young age. Cubetto's pitch is that it addresses this deficit through hands-on play that makes learning programming more approachable.
"When I think about backing a product or a company, I ask myself, 'Would I want this product in my own home?' and 'Would I give this to my kids?'" said investor Randi Zuckerberg. "What I love most about Cubetto is that it will give girls and boys all over the world the opportunity to learn the basic building blocks of coding, without being glued to a computer screen. As a mom, that's my dream."
Maker Primo Toys is an alumni of PCH Highway1 hardware accelerator program. One of the top Bay Area accelerators and a big indicator of Cubetto's market potential.
The Cubetto Kickstarter campaign runs through April 7, 2016. Early backers receive early bird $149 pricing. MSRP retail is $225. The basic pack includes the robot, console, a set of 16 colorful coding blocks, map and activity book. Additional educational discounts will be available for classroom packs of 4, 8 and 16 playsets.