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Arduino was conceived as an open source microcontroller for artists, designers, and others who aren’t necessarily techie/programmer types. Of course, all sorts of makers have flocked to this technology because of its versatility. But in spite of its relative ease of use, there’s still a barrier to entry for new users. Like kids. For that reason, BirdBrain Technologies‘ Hummingbird looks promising. They call it “pre-Arduino.”

The custom controller is sold as a kit that can be used to operate sensors, motors, and lights (included in the box). BirdBrain designer Tom Lauwers says it’s designed for “students and kids who have never touched electronics or programming before.” The Hummingbird costs $199, a bit steep for a kids’ kit, but there are reportedly plans for a lower priced version.

Here’s the device in action. The cardboard robot looks kinda fun.

[viddler id=bce9567c w=598]

Anyone had experience with the Hummingbird?

[via Endgadget]

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.


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  • WILLIAM

    I’m 12 and arduino is not that bad!

  • Jim Myers

    A $199 “pre-Arduino?” Do they REALLY expect to sell this thing? This must be about a 300% markup on the cost of the components. What, exactly, is the “barrier” to entry with Arduino? I honestly cannot see this serving ANY purpose other than to fleece unsuspecting consumers and to line the pockets of the bird brains that thought this up.

    • http://twitter.com/restifo Christian Restifo (@restifo)

      I agree. I can see having the software to do things graphically as an introduction, but there are things like modkit that can do this already.

      And $199 is going to make it really hard to get it into classrooms or into homes of kids with parents of limited means.

      Another issue is that you have to have it connected to the computer; you can’t program it, slap it on a robot with some AA batteries, and watch it go.

  • David

    Why is there never any love for the Picaxe? Simple Basic, costs only a couple of £ each. What don’t people like about it?

    • http://www.ledsales.com.au Mr T

      I have no idea, have been using the Pixace chips for years and they are great, versatile, lots of inbuilt drive commands for servos, LCDs etc, actually much easier for kids to use than a ‘duino…

  • http://gigable.wordpress.com Bosstiger

    Reblogged this on Gigable – Tech Blog.

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