Programming is becoming even more of an essential skill in the modern world as technology continues to develop. In a bid to help children grasp the concepts of coding at an early age, Google has developed Project Bloks.
According to Google, the goal of the research project is to create an open hardware platform that can be used by designers, developers and researchers to create tangible coding experiences for children. Giving coding a physical form through Project Bloks will help kids understand the concepts easier, as they learn by having things in their hands.
Project Bloks, as it currently stands, is a modular system that is made up of three elements, namely pucks, Base Boards and the Raspberry Pi Zero-based Brain Board.
Pucks come in different forms and interaction options and can be programmed to do different things such as play music once the button is pushed or to turn on something as the switch is pressed. On the other hand, Base Boards are where the pucks are placed, with the board reading the puck's instructions through a capacitive sensor.
Lastly, the Brain Board is the component that provides connectivity and power to the system. Once several Base Boards are connected to it, the Brain Board can read the instructions coded into the pucks and send them through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to other connected devices.
Being an open source research project, Project Bloks can be utilized by companies to create toys out of various materials and in any form. With the platform, Google is hoping that technical barriers will be erased so that developers, designers and researchers can focus on innovation, experimentation and the creation of new methods to teach coding to children.
"We believe that when children learn to code, they're not just learning how to program a computer — they're learning a new language for creative expression and are developing computational thinking: a skillset for solving problems of all kinds," said Steve Vranakis and Jayme Goldstein, members of Google Creative Lab.
The toys that could be made using the platform include a robot whose movements can be controlled, a speaker that can be programmed to play music and a system that will allow connected sensors to activate certain objects.
Toys that will be based on Project Bloks may not be coming soon, however, as the project is still in its development stage. Work on Project Bloks started in 2013, and it has been unveiled simply to gauge interest among developers and to seek possible partners in the endeavor.
Apple has also recently started an initiative to help children learn coding and create their own programs, with the company revealing the new iPad app Swift Playgrounds at WWDC.