SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Nikita Ivanov, Sean Houghton

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Introducing TinkerBots, A New Building Set That Makes Creating All Kinds of Toy Robots a Snap – Literally

The Toy Industry Association recently listed “custom built” as a top toy trend for 2014, saying that building will advance to a whole new level with “playthings that allow kids to create, customize and personalize to reflect their unique tastes, styles and imaginations.” Illustrating this trend is TinkerBots, a new building set launching today that enables boys and girls as young as five—and adults, too—to easily create an endless number of different toy robots that they can teach and bring to life without requiring wiring or programming. TinkerBots’ patented “Power Brain” and kinetic modules easily twist and snap together with other TinkerBots pieces—and even LEGO bricks—to add movement and interest to whatever sort of robot the child can imagine and build.

TinkerBots is a robot building set that enables children as young as five--and adults, too--to easil ...

TinkerBots is a robot building set that enables children as young as five--and adults, too--to easily build whatever kind of robot they can imagine, like this dog. All it takes is snapping together the TinkerBots red Power Brain module and other pieces to create a robot. No wiring or programming. Just a lot of fun and learning. (Photo: Business Wire)

Today, TinkerBots is launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tinkerbots to offer parents (and robot enthusiasts) the opportunity to get one of the first TinkerBots robot building sets and to support the production of a toy that introduces robotics and STEM concepts to children in the form of good fun and play, and which the entire family will enjoy, too.

“The inspiration for TinkerBots grew out of my lifelong fascination with LEGO toys. Tasked with building a ‘Dream Machine’ for my master’s thesis in product design, I thought it would be cool to create a construction kit that is as simple to use as LEGOs but has the ability to easily add robotics and make toys that move and do things. It was music to my ears when a child described TinkerBots as being like ‘living LEGOs.’ With our TinkerBots building set, you’re not getting just one robot, you’re getting the ability to build any type of toy robot that you and your children can imagine,” said inventor Leonhard Oschutz, creative director and co-founder of Kinematics GmbH, the Berlin-based company that is bringing TinkerBots to market.

While TinkerBots was in development, it received a great deal of interest and recognition in European technology, design and education circles. Most recently at CeBIT, the world's largest international computer expo, TinkerBots won the “CeBIT Innovation Award 2014.” The judges noted that even though Kinematics’ vision for TinkerBots is to introduce children to robotics though play, the “kit is bound to catch on with slightly older enthusiasts, too!”

The centerpiece of the TinkerBots building set is a square, red “Power Brain” module (approximately 1.5”x1.5”x1.5”) that contains an Arduino-compatible microcontroller and provides wireless power and data transmission to kinetic modules such as a motor, a twister, a pivot and a grabber. Children can build anything they can imagine, such as a dog that walks, a snake that slithers, a bug that crawls or a tractor that digs. Small building blocks and other shapes such as rectangles and pyramids without electronics inside them are passive pieces that can be used to customize TinkerBots toy robots. TinkerBots is also compatible with LEGO bricks, which can be used to add even more detail to TinkerBots creations.

Controlling TinkerBots robots is as easy as it is to build them. An integrated record-and-play function on the “Power Brain” module enables children to teach their robots what to do and bring them to life. Children only need to take their creation in their hands, press the record button and move their robot in the way they want it to move. When they put it down and push the play button, the toy robot will repeat over and over exactly what it just learned. The next time, the child can teach it something completely new, or start all over to build an entirely different robot using the same TinkerBots pieces. TinkerBots robots can also be remote controlled with a tablet or smartphone using the TinkerBots app.

The basic TinkerBots building set comes with three active modules: the “Power Brain,” motor and pivot modules. Passive pieces include two cubes and two adapter plates for LEGO bricks. A USB charger is also included. For more advanced robots, there will be other available parts such as an infrared distance sensor. TinkerBots’ use of the Arduino-compatible micro-controller platform enables older enthusiasts to dabble in programming (“C”) for their TinkerBots creations.

Pricing and Availability

Preorders for TinkerBots are now being accepted on international crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tinkerbots) and are expected to ship in fourth quarter 2014. General availability is expected in second quarter 2015 with retail pricing beginning at $159 USD.

About Kinematics GmbH

Kinematics GmbH is a technology and toy company based in Brandenburg, Germany, near Berlin, which develops toys that introduce children to robotics and technology and engage them in hours of active learning and fun. The company’s first toy, TinkerBots, is a building set with easy-to-add robotics that make it possible for young children and the entire family to create an endless number of toy robots. Kinematics was founded in 2011 by Leonhard Oschütz, Christian Guder and Dr. Matthias Buerger. For more information, visit http://www.tinkerbots.net

* Top Toy Trends of 2014 Announced by Toy Industry Association (TIA), the Official Voice of Toy Fair (February 17, 2014)

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