Former Googler Opens Crowdfunding Campaign To Teach Kids To Code With A Cute, Blinking Bot

File this under “holiday gifts for next year”. A startup called Play-i has opened a crowdfunding campaign to put into production a pair of educational robots that teach children the basics of coding from a young age.

The project comes from Vikas Gupta, Google’s former head of consumer payments, who sold his previous company Jambool to Google for $70 million in 2010. In addition to the $148,085 that Play-i has raised in the last 24 hours, the startup closed $1 million in seed funding from Google Ventures, Madrona Venture Group, and a number of other investors last spring.

The two robots Play-i is hoping to take to market are named Bo and Yana, both of whom are controlled using a companion app. By putting different action buttons in order, kids can build a visual set of commands: if they clap, for instance, Bo might move forward. Pivoting around his center, he can also play a xylophone, or offer up a flower from a test tube in his hand. It doesn’t look much like traditional coding, but the idea is to get kids thinking in terms of actionable storytelling.

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