Kids are learning how to use digital devices at younger and younger ages. Somewhere on this planet there are probably infants with iPhones hanging from the mobiles that rotate over their cribs. But do kids as young as three years old want to learn how to program those digital devices? Wowwee thinks they do. And they're using the undeniable charisma of Sesame Street fave Elmo to lure preschoolers into starting their STEM -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics -- education shortly after they figure out how to walk.
The Elmoji Coding Robot is an android with the face of Elmo on his front screen and a programming language based on -- you guessed it -- emojis to teach toddlers computer logic when they're barely old enough to read. (You might have to teach very young kids how to read words like "if" and "then," which even beginning programmers recognize as two of the most powerful syntactic tools of conditional logic.) Sesame Workshop, which conceived the project, worked with Wowwee to develop an extremely user-friendly app featuring not only Elmo but his Sesame Street neighbors to create games that children can play with the bot and a simple, graphical programming language they can use to give the muppet's actions a personalized touch.
Elmoji doesn't just respond to his mobile app. He can also be shaken, nudged and otherwise provoked into interacting with children who might be too young to understand how programming logic works. To be honest, Elmoji doesn't really look a whole lot like Elmo except for that unforgettable face and the Elmo-like colors of his body. Otherwise, he's a fairly standard humanoid automaton, but one with the educational potential that may create a generation of young techies who one day will have more skills than the 24-year-olds working at Google and will probably take their jobs away from them.
If you want some other cute robots that will inspire kids to interact with tech, take a look at the Hasbro FurReal Makers Proto Max (a dog-bot), the Meccano MAX (no relation) and the Wowwee Roboraptor X, which is actually a scary-looking dinosaur but everybody knows how much kids love dinosaurs.
Reacts to physical stimulation such as tilting and shaking, with dynamic sounds and thousands of animations on his LCD screen.
Uses a free app, guides early readers and pre-readers to test their problem-solving skills and play games that control Elmoji’s actions.