A new DIY toolkit makes it easy for kids to design and build their own robots from simple household supplies. The system, called HandiMate, was designed by researchers from Indiana University and Purdue University. It uses motorized joint modules equipped with micro-controllers that can be attached to everyday objects with simple Velcro strips. Children can use the modules to build creatures and vehicles out of craft supplies and household objects. Then they configure the robots using an app. Back end algorithms are built into the user-friendly system and eliminate the need for expertise in electronics or programming. When design and set up is complete, kids maneuver their robots with hand gestures using controller gloves that are included with the kits.
The simple interface makes robotics accessible to a wide population and encourages learning through play. HandiMate’s designers hope the toolkit helps children engage in education—learning basic engineering concepts while having fun.
Affordable and powerful sensors, open source software and open IoT standards are powering a new generation of smart toy platforms such as HandiMate. We plan to launch a kickstarter campaign in 2015 to launch HandiMate as a gesture controllable robotic toy kit for kids.