Sony taps crowdfunding to deliver its kid-friendly coding kit

Koov packages should be ready ship in November.

Sony's answer to Lego Mindstorms is a robot-building kit called Koov. It's the first product from Sony's Global Education division, and it's meant to help kids learn to code while they have fun building robots. The company has put the design kit on Indiegogo to gather some $100,000 in crowd-sourced funding while getting valuable feedback on the kits, which include more than 30 hours of kid-friendly coding instruction and multi-colored blocks with sensors and actuators. The project currently sits at almost $5,000 in funding; kits are set to ship out to backers in November.

Like Lego's Mindstorms and WeDo, the Koov project aims to help kids develop "21st Century Skills" like creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum areas. Experiential projects like these help children learn the processes behind things like building robots so they can learn while they interact with physical and digital systems.

The Indigogo kits — which come in variously-sized packages — come with colored blocks in seven different shapes, along with cool sensors and actuators like an accelerometer, infrared sensor, push switches, LEDs, motors and more. Kids will use the Koov app on iPad, Windows or Mac to manage the whole process. Once kids have learned how to build robots and code in fun behaviors, they can share them in a secure social space. The little coders can check out other robots and download the code, enabling them to remix ideas, which will extend the learning even more. According to Sony, there are already thousands of people sharing and remaking robot recipes in Japan and China.