This week, Avram Piltch shows off the Artie 3000 drawing robot. Artie is a new entry in the growing list of kids STEM toys intended to help teach kids about computers, logic, and programming. These toys all take different forms, and Artie is unique in the field. This product is a robotic drawing product, which allows the user to program its movements to produce a drawing.
While Artie is cute, some aspects make it less than ideal. Most robotic toys connect to their host devices via Bluetooth, Artie connects via WiFi. Artie has a web server built-in which serves up the web interface to program the robot. This produces a couple of issues. The first is that because Artie connects through WiFi, the computer or tablet does not have internet access. This means that looking for help will be impossible on the connected computer. So, to be able to use a tutorial or follow instructions, you will need two devices.
The second problem is that the interface is designed for a larger screen, particularly a laptop. It works well on a laptop, but most younger kids have more experience with a tablet or phone than with a laptop. As such, using the block-based programming system is not as easy to use as it is with other products.
While Artie is billed as a toy to learn how to program, this robot is not going to be a great introductory programming toy. That's because the system is very limited in its scope. However, Artie is a truly great product to help kids learn the basics of geometry due to its drawing focus. Over time, kids can learn the finer points of how to program the robot to produce geometric shapes. The more intricate the shapes, the more detailed the drawings can be. One of the included programs produces a very cool Spirograph-like design.
Because of the price and the legitimate learning opportunities, Artie is a good buy for most young kids.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.