Emerging Tech

Little Sophia is the pint-sized robot buddy that promises to teach kids to code

The brainchild of Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, Sophia is the Audrey Hepburn-inspired humanoid robot who has met all manner of politicians and celebrities, and once promised to, err, destroy all of humanity.

Now Sophia has a precocious little sister — and she’s ready to teach kids all about STEM subject (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and coding. Intended for kids aged 7 to 13, Little Sophia is a 14-inch robot, capable of carrying out much of the functionality of the larger, regular Sophia. That includes walking, talking, tracking and recognizing faces, and pulling a variety of different facial expressions. In addition to this, she can sing, tell stories, and reel off factoids like an excited (and somewhat nerdy) kid. There’s also some A.I. home assistant capabilities and even some nifty augmented reality tech thrown in for good measure.

The robot is programmable via a mobile app, and can additionally be made to mirror the movement of its owner, making it both a fun toy and also an educational tool. Promising unparalleled levels of feedback for users, the idea is to create a robot friend and tutor which will build up a lasting relationship with kids.

“Our vision at Hanson Robotics is to bring robots to life,” David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics, said in a statement. “Our team of A.I. developers, engineers, roboticists, scientists, and artists have designed Little Sophia with the expressiveness and engaging personality that made Sophia the Robot so appealing, further extending the reach of our character-driven A.I. technology.”

As ever, we offer our usual warnings about the risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns, which can include products that don’t ship on time, don’t ship as described, or — on particularly unfortunate occasions — don’t ship at all. However, if you’re aware of these and are still keen to get involved, head over to Little Sophia’s project page on Kickstarter to pledge your hard-earned cash. Prices start at $ 149 (although there’s a cheaper $ 129 offer if you get there in the next several hours), which includes Little Sophia and associated software. Shipping is set to take place in December. Provided shipping takes place when promised, that could make this the perfect holiday gift for the little STEM enthusiast in your life!

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