Maker/Development
TinkerBots enlivens your Legos, offers simple robotics introduction

The Premise. Children and parents alike love construction toys because of the way that they manage to be fun while fostering creativity in developing minds. As robotics become easier to manufacture and more cost-effective, the delight of bringing these creations to life is too much to ignore.

The Product. TinkerBots is the next in a line of robotic building toys for children, though these are designed to be easier than ever. Using an Arduino platform as its base, each TinkerBots creation starts with the Power Brain, a block that provides information and power to any product. From there, a variety of blocks can be connected, from legs to wheels, and there are even adapters to allow standard Lego blocks to be attached. A simple press of the record button and a movement of each of the parts will allow the Power Brain to record the action and recreate it, hands-free.

The Pitch. It’s easy to see that Kinematics is passionate about blending fun and learning. By framing the toy as a stepping stone to familiarizing children with technology they will most likely need in their future careers, TinkerBots is framed as an educational tool while still looking enjoyable to play and experiment with. The campaign photos provide almost an instruction manual to using and building with TinkerBots for those that need a little more guidance. To reach the market, Kinematics will need $100,000 in pledges to continue to grow the TinkerBots platform.

The Perks. Because of the inherently modular nature of TinkerBots, there are a number of reward tiers for backers, starting with the Basic Wheeler Set that will allow backers to build simple wheeled robots for $159. Those who prefer to make animal-style creations can get the Basic Animal Set for $229. Advanced, more inclusive sets are available for $299, an IR sensor set is available for $329, sets with grabbing arm attachments are $399, and the Sensoric Mega Set is $499.

The Potential. Robotics sets for children are nothing new, but TinkerBots greatly brings down the cost and complexity down a notch from something like Lego’s latest MindStorms starter kit. What makes TinkerBots so unique though is the lack of high-level programming involved. While usually that requirement is sold as a feature designed to teach kids skills, the learning by example of TinkerBots will make creating and playing that much more natural and fun, and at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to excite and enrapture children of all ages.

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