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Google is developing a toy system to teach kids how to code

Google is launching Project Bloks. It is aimed to mix real world toys with developing coding skills. The system will allow kids to create new toys while teaching them the basics of coding.

Google is describing Project Bloks as a research project. “Our aim is to create an open hardware platform to help developers, designers, and researchers build the next generation of tangible programming experiences for kids”, the company says.

Currently Bloks features a modular system for tangible programming. It is a mixture of electronic boards and “programmable pucks which enable you to send instructions to devices when connected together”.

The pucks actually are not only round like hockey pucks. They can come in several different forms and shapes with different capabilities. For example you can use some of them as switches. You can use other for moving and some can even play music.

You can place the pucks on the so-called base boards. They feature a capacitive sensor and detect the type of puck which is placed on them. You can connect multiple base boards together to form a more complex set.

The power and connectivity comes from the Brain Board. When you connect multiple Base Boards to the Brain Board, it can read their instructions and send them via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connected devices. It’s built on a Raspberry Pi Zero.

Coding made easier

So, what can you use Bloks for? Google is giving a few examples, but the goal is for the kids to use and expand their creativity. One of the possibilities is to create a music maker which can receive inputs from different instruments. And then the toy will play the result via a wireless speaker. Another option is to create a coding board to program moves for say a toy robot and then send the instructions to the robot for execution.

Google hopes that Project Bloks will attract the attention of toy makers which will incorporate the technology into their interactive toys. Google says to The Verge that the project is still in development and has been for the past three years. It is unveiling it now to gauge the interest of developers, kids and potential partners.

The Internet giant is hoping that the platform will help children to better understand the logic behind coding. It is also hoping it will be an easier way for them to hone basic coding skills which will make further and deeper developer training later on much easier and faster. Currently though there is no timetable for the completion of Project Bloks and it all depends on the level of interest of toy makers and the developer community.