A toy and app made for anyone to learn to code. Wireless, drag-and-drop coding and our friendly iPad tutor. Think Lego meets the IoT!
About this project
LightUp is the world’s first toy that teaches kids about coding and electronics with a friendly iPad tutor. It combines circuit building blocks with an app that lets anyone learn to code with wireless drag-and-drop programming and a friendly tutor that adapts to the individual learner.
These days code controls way more than just what you see on the screen. With LightUp, you can too. We made the Faraday Kit so anyone can code beyond the screen.
That’s a hard question to answer since LightUp is so open-ended we’ve seen kids make just about everything! Here are a few ideas to get started…
- a music box that plays your favorite songs
- a tea timer (for black and green tea)
- games like Simon Says, Reaction timer, Whack-a-mole
- a burglar alarm
- an alarm clock (triggered at a certain time, or when the sun rises)
- musical instruments like a theremin and keyboard
- the amazing project in your mind that we didn’t think of yet!
No one should have to see the words “syntax error”, especially not an 8-year-old. With LightUp Code we’re bringing drag-and-drop programming to hardware. It’s inspired by Scratch so anyone familiar with that can get started in seconds. If you’re not, no problem. It’s super easy to get started. Want to see it action? Head over here for a sneak peek of an early version. We even made a virtual kit just for you! Got an Arduino Uno? Awesome. Just plug it in and program it straight from your browser.
Faraday is 100% wireless. There’s no more painful driver setup, sticking wires into tiny slots or having to lug a heavy laptop around. Just hit run and your code is programmed onto your project and starts running in seconds. Bluetooth works both ways, so your projects can also talk to your iPad and make internet-connected projects!
Just snap it together
All the blocks connect magnetically. Just snap them together to build your project in seconds.
Friendly Tutor: We want kids to make mistakes
As educators, we know that “mistakes” aren’t bad at all, but should actually be encouraged. Let’s follow Carol Dweck’s example and foster a growth mindset in our kids; one that builds grit and confidence as they learn by making mistakes.
With our first campaign, we created a tutor all to help kids as they build circuits. It was a smashing success. Kids around the world used the LightUp Lens 100,000 times to experiment, tinker and learn. Just like before, our friendly iPad tutor uses augmented reality to help beginners with basic circuits too! Just take a picture and watch it come to life!
We’ve now brought this interactivity to LightUp Code. Our friendly iPad tutor provides helpful hints as you complete challenges and write code. Our adaptive AI technology recognizes patterns of code that need some polishing up and displays a little tip giving a push in the right direction.
While we don’t plan on this happening, we may have to make some tweaks to the kits as we go into production. If anything does change, we’ll be sure to let you know and make sure the changes are still in the spirit of the original kit.
Under the hood, our microcontroller block is powered by the RFduino, a cutting-edge Bluetooth Smart module with ARM Cortex M0. It’s Arduino-compatible, over-the-air programmable and just plain awesome. After graduating from our drag-and-drop coding, you can basically run any Sketch you want using the Arduino IDE or through our app.
We launched our first product to teach kids about electronics right here on Kickstarter. Since then, we’ve shipped thousands of LightUp kits to eager kids around the world (90+ countries and counting). Kids have built 100,000 circuits, many for the very first time.
Circuits are important, but there’s another big part to understanding how the technology around us works: the code running it. That’s why we’ve developed the next generation of LightUp, which brings coding off the screen and into the real world. With our Maker Kits, anyone could build their first circuit. Now with our Faraday Kit, anyone can write their first line of code.
We’re taking cutting-edge wireless technology in putting into a toy. To do that in a cost-effective way, we need to hit certain minimum quantities. With your help we can overcome the minimum order hurdle, set up our production line, and start churning out awesome Faraday Kits to send to each of you. In return, our Kickstarter backers will be the first people in the world to receive the Faraday Kit, and at a special price!
Josh Chan graduated from the Stanford Teacher Education Program, after teaching for a year at a local high school. Before that, he majored in Human Biology at Stanford. He is interested in applying sound pedagogical practices to help people learn in and out of the classroom. When he’s not at “work”, he plays his banjo, cooks up a storm, and listens to Bob Dylan on repeat.
Tarun Pondicherry graduated with a masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 2013 and received a BSE from Princeton University in 2011. In the past Tarun worked on projects at One Laptop Per Child, Google and NVIDIA.
Many people have helped us get to where we are now, and we sincerely appreciate all the time, mentorship and help. In particular a huge shoutout to Paulo Blikstein, StartX, HAX, RFdigital, and Codebender, and all the amazing backers of our first campaign.
Risks and challenges
We fulfilled our first campaign, shipping out 1000+ LightUp kits to 90+ countries. We’ve shipped thousands more of our Edison and Tesla kits in the last few months. This time, everything you see in the video is fully functional. We’ve already designed the hardware for the Faraday Kit and have started getting the production line set up. We’ve been concurrently developing the software and expect the initial release to be available when the rewards ship. We learned from our first campaign that unforeseen issues do crop up from time to time, and we’ve built in a buffer to try to account for any issues. If anything changes, we’ll be sure to stay in touch and let you know exactly what’s going on.