Parents @ Play: The art of science meets the science of art

Originally published in the Chicago Tribune

Anyone who loves or even just appreciates science will tell you that there’s something beautiful about it. At the same time, those who love or even just appreciate art, often admire the technique and scientific precision that can go into creating a masterpiece. This week we had a chance to experience several engaging products that blur the lines between art and science.

As far as we know, Augie is the first coding robot that (who?) comes with AR technology. What’s especially cool about Augie is that after introducing the basics of coding (using Blockly), he or she (it?) then grows with your child through six distinct progression-base modes. Your little programmer will soon have Augie dashing around your house, nimbly avoiding obstacles, spinning, and making sounds, all while stealthily stimulating your child’s imagination, critical thinking, logic, and problem-solving skills. The app is free, as are over 60 AR coding tutorials that follow the standards set by Code.org. For ages 5+. Under $95. https://www.pai.technology/augie-1/

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AR Presence Strong at Toy Fair, But VR Interest Seems to Be Declining

http://www.mesalliance.org/2018/02/20/ar-presence-strong-toy-fair-vr-interest-seems-declining/

NEW YORK — Augmented reality (AR) continues to be incorporated into a large number of toys and games targeted at kids, but interest in standard virtual reality (VR) requiring headsets seems to be on the decline among toy makers, according to interviews the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) conducted at the annual American International Toy Fair Feb. 17-20.

Interest in artificial intelligence (AI), however, seems to be on the rise among companies making toys.

The incorporation of AR, VR and other technologies into toys was included by the Toy Industry Association (TIA) in its list of the top toy trends for 2017 that were announced at last year’s show. And TIA announced Feb. 18 at Toy Fair that it “expects to see more affordable and user-friendly virtual and augmented reality toys, interactive and buildable robots with new features” this year.

While the AR part of that prediction was underscored by our conversations with several Toy Fair exhibitors, the VR portion of the forecast was cast into some doubt by what most of the exhibitors we interviewed said.

In addition, one of the companies fielding VR products at the show last year – Seedling – wasn’t among the exhibitors this time. Uncle Milton, meanwhile, didn’t announce any new VR products at the show this year after touting several such items there in 2017.

Pai Technology

The main story at Pai Technology’s Toy Fair booth this time was Augie, a $199.99 coding robot for kids, equipped with AR technology, that was developed to introduce kids to computer coding language, according to the company. The robot also was designed to engage kids’ imagination and creativity while helping them to improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, Pai said. Augie works in conjunction with an Android and iOS app.

Pai showed a prototype version of a coding robot at Toy Fair last year, but a finalized version of Augie was shown for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, Sherry Wu, the company’s global business strategy director, told MESA Feb. 17.

It’s already being sold by Amazon and 32 Barnes & Noble stores, she told us. Augie is also being sold at Barnesandnoble.com.

Pai is in talks with additional U.S. retailers to widen its availability, Wu said.

Also touted by Pai at Toy Fair was Circuit Conductor, a $69.99 educational kit, also featuring AR, that teaches kids about electricity, currents and magnets.

The company, which opened a Santa Monica, California, office in 2016, has positioned itself as a provider of AR STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) experiences. STEAM (often STEM, minus the art) has been a dominant theme at Toy Fair in recent years and that trend continued for 2018.

Pai Technology on Huffington Post: Best of CES 2017

Read the full article here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58bafc8ee4b02eac8876cf3b. 

Pai Technology’s CubeTastic and Ocean PetsVideo games have taken over our kids’ lives so it’s nice to see some techie educational games on the market. Pai Technology’s CubeTastic is a puzzle cube that will remind parents of the Rubik’s Cube, but it uses 3D augmented reality to guide kids through the puzzle. Ocean Pets lets kids create their own fish, scan them with their mobile device and then see them come to life with 3D augmented reality. Both products are inexpensive and intended for kids ages 3-12. pai.technology

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Augie featured on The Toy Insider!

Read the full article here: https://www.thetoyinsider.com/augie-augmented-reality-robot-review/.

PaiTechnology.Augie_

“The future is now Augie.

Augie Augmented Reality Robot, from Pai Technology, merges two popular trends in the toy aisles right now: coding and augmented reality (AR). The minibot is designed for preschool kids and introduces them to coding concepts in a fun and engaging way.

Augie is a tiny, sleek-moving robot with a circular screen that looks like an eye. The “eye” will flash images on its screen depending on the action it is performing, and the speakers on the side of the bot play sounds, helping Augie to come to life. It also has four wheels on its bottom, two of which rotate in all directions so that Augie can glide with the grace of a three-time Olympic gold medalist.

Once connected to the Augie app on a tablet or smart device, kids will get to dive into the many features that are available at their fingertips. There are six ways to play with Augie: Freeplay, Trailblaze, Coding Classroom, Coding Control Center, AR Adventures, and AR Coding.

When little ones want to put their coding skills to the test, they can try out one of the coding modes. The Coding Control Center lets kids feel strong and powerful as they build codes and commands for their tiny friend to follow. Coders can use the functions on the left side of the panel to control how Augie moves, what sounds it makes, and what it displays on its screen. Kids can easily edit and remove functions if they are not satisfied with the end result, and once they like what they have created, they can save the command and access it at any time. Kids will spend hours coding commands that send Augie in all direction in the kitchen, and then top it off with a barking noise that will fool even the slyest house dog.

Freeplay is an easier way for kids to interact with their smart friend. Using a smart device, kids can move Augie forward, backward, left, and right. They can even change the color of the lights that it emits, and play noises or record their own silly sounds for it to project. For even more fun, tilt the tablet and prepare to be amazed as Augie moves in the same direction. Trailblaze is a similar mode where kids draw a path for Augie to follow, and then add fun effects for it to display on its screen.

The AR Adventures combines the challenge of coding with the excitement of AR. During this mode of play, kids use the bottom control to play the game, and the touchscreen joystick to move Augie around and help him battle the enemy. Players help Augie release lasers and collect the AR coins as they improve their health and move through each level. Kids can play games such as Hide and Seek and Super Augie Maze, or even create unique games and control how it is played by dragging obstacles and setting time parameters.

When kids immerse themselves in Augie’s world, they’ll enter a universe that is full of critical thinking challenges disguised in cool technological functions and capabilities. Here at the toy Insider, we like to call that a win-win. 😉 “