If you haven’t heard yet, apparently wires aren’t the way of the future. Because if the iPhone 7 doesn’t need them, why should anyone else? If you want to get your kid in line with this brave new world, SAM Labs has an easy-to-use electronics kit that allows kids 7 and older to invent electrical stuff using wireless components. All of them are linked via a smartphone app, instead than dated telegraph technology.
First thing you should know: SAM kits are made up of rechargeable “smart” blocks (a button, LED, motor, and buzzer); each perform a different behavior (ie. flash, move, twirl, etc.). It’s your kid’s job to put on an electronic talent show (but no ventriloquist acts, please). Once a block is turned on, it appears via Bluetooth in the toolbox on the SAM Space app. Drag and drop component icons onto the canvas to connect them. And when they press the real button, real LED lights flash. No wires. No soldering. Possibly black magic. All this is in service of giving kids a behind-the-scenes look at the lucrative world of coding.
But let’s get down to brass tax: LEDs are fun, but where is your robot maid? Depending on which kit you buy, a robot may very well be in the offing. Or they can construct a remote controlled car. Or maybe a drawing machine that can forge your signature on tardy slips (that’s more for your 5th-grader than for you). SAM Labs currently sell 4 kits (Inventor, Make, Pro, Family), each with a different configuration of components. You can buy extra blocks separately — or just build a machine to fabricate them.
SAM Labs Construction Kits ($139 – $779)