Sooner or later, we have to get used with robots controlling our lives, so it’s probably better to start at an early age. TROBO is an educational robot that makes use of stories, games and quizzes to pass on knowledge in a way that’s very pleasant for the children.
Educational robots are definitely not a new thing, but putting one inside a plush toy in order to make it more huggable is a great take on that. Developed by Jeremy Scheinberg, a University of Pennsylvania engineering grad, and Chris Harden, a former Development Director with EA Sports, the TROBO plush toy robot is meant to modernize the way kids learn basic things about STEM topics (science, technology, engineering and math). Best of all, the topics are adapted so that they include modern things such as the Internet, 3D printing, rocket engineering and more.
As Harden explained, he and his collaborator had the idea of creating this robot after having kids themselves: “Witnessing his daughter Sophia spend hours learning to be a princess, led Jeremy to want something more foundational for her future. He wanted to share his love of learning technology and engineering with his daughter. I had a similar experience with Asher, who spends a significant amount of time with Hot Wheels cars and mindlessly watching cars on YouTube.”
TROBO comes with a companion app that’s currently only available for iPads. Hopefully an Android version of the app will be provided soon so that more people can use this plush robot. “We agreed that tablets had to be central to the concept, and that a physical experience with emotional companionship was critical to engaging the children,” added Harden.
The plush robot is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Harden and Scheinberg are looking to raise the $60K necessary for TROBO to enter mass production. At press time, backers pledged more than $26K, and since there are 17 more days to go, it’s almost a certainty that the campaign will be successful. In that event, anyone who pledged $50 or more should expect to receive the robot in November 2015. That’s quite a lot to wait, but it should be worth it, especially since the retail price will most likely be much higher than that.