There’s something to be said for giving new life to an old toy, and even more to be said for making an old toy actually come to life. Bots Alive does both. This artificial intelligence kit turns those remote-controlled Hexbug Spiders (the creepy mechanical bugs you bought a decade ago at Radio Shack) into autonomous creatures. You may want to keep the Orkin man and your IT guy on speed dial.
Brad Knox conceived of the idea at the MIT Media Lab, engineering this inexpensive Hexbug add-on to get 6- to 11-year-olds interested in robotics and STEAM (hey, it’s not your fault technology marches on). It uses artificial intelligence, computer vision, and augmented reality (through your smartphone) to bring the bots to life. All they have to do is stick the decal on top of the spider, insert the augmented reality controller into the phone’s headphone jack, and download the app. From there, they can use the vision blocks and targets to build mazes and obstacle courses for these mechanical arachnids to navigate — no remote control required.
The basic $35 kit is BYOS (Bring Your Own Spider) but for $60, they’ll throw in a bug so you don’t have run down to Target. And while their Kickstarter’s already surpassed its goal (which is great since it means you can confidently pre-order), if they hit their stretch funding the best may still be yet to come: Sumo bot battles. Now that’s an even better reason to dig those Hexbugs out of the closet.
(Pre-order for September 2017)