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Kirsten Halterman writes in:

My First Robot” is a book for young children (ages 1-3), intended as an introduction to sensory input and output. I created this book to excite children about small electronics and robots.

Using an Arduino, buttons, and an IR sensor, I programmed the robot (named Isbot) to sing a song for its user. When the user gives Isbot a high-five or a low-five (pushes one of the red buttons), Isbot detects their depth (Isbot’s eyes are the IR sensor) and will either sing a song slowly (if they are close) or very quickly (if they are far away). This book gives parents a platform to discuss depth, sound, and touch.

Becky Stern

Becky Stern

Becky Stern (sternlab.org is a DIY guru and director of wearable electronics at Adafruit. She publishes a new project video every week and hosts a live show on YouTube. Formerly Becky was Senior Video Producer for MAKE. Becky lives in Brooklyn, NY and belongs to art groups Free Art & Technology (“release early, often, and with rap music”) and Madagascar Institute (“fear is never boring”).


  • failrate

    Definitely nice to see people using microcontrollers for toys. :) I think they are not taking full advantage of the book format, though. It should be possible to use some kind of switch to activate different settings in the Arduino by turning the pages of the book. Most children’s books in that age range generally have thick pages, so it would be easy to hide additional hardware.

  • [email protected]

    I think that it is missing LED’s. LED’s are a great way to ‘see’ what is happening and always grab peoples attention. I just don’t imagine that sound alone would grab a child’s attention amongst many other noise making toys. Sorry if this sounds rude, but this almost seems like the equivalent to a song playing Halmark card. What are other peoples thoughts?

  • MakerDino

    It’s a great idea and you need to run with it… take it into some more pages. I too think it should have LEDs. Make them blink faster with the input from the IR sensor.

    Yes I see that it’s a “prototype” so I expect you to keep developing.

    Good job!

  • rob0

    Good concept – I’d love to see the next version of it. There are a lot of ideas to explore and different types of sensors you could use.