With emerging technology comes new and exciting ways to stimulate a child’s mind and play. It’s an exciting time for inventors, educators, programmers, and those a like. And when it comes to creating Robots controlled by your smartphone or tablet, the company named Orbotix is paving the way for the generations to come.
“If we inspire only one kid in the history of our company to become an engineer…we’ve won”
Recently our team got the privilege to coordinate with Hunter Clawson to ask a series of questions with Orbotix’s community outreach wizard Ross Ingram. We wanted to know more about their revolutionary product named Sphero and why it’s different and changing the future of play for kids around the world! Below you’ll find our questions in bold and the answers italics.
- Why did your company decide to focus on electronic toys and how has it shown to make a difference or impact within your area of expertise?
A connected toy like Sphero requires a lot of engineering both on the hardware and software side. We blend these two realms together to create a magical experience that is Sphero. Because we’re blending these two types of engineering, Orbotix is made up of engineers that are the best in both categories.
- Why was your company formed and could you share a little of its history?
Much of the original story can be found here and a few other blogs and publications. Basically two guys in their mid-twenties came together and wanted to make things that we’re controlled via smartphones. Adam (a bluetooth and software hacker) and Ian (a robotics engineer) used their skills to get into an accelerator called Techstars. In Techstars they refined their idea and received funding to start their company.
- Are you planning on expanding in the near future? If so, how do you foresee its growth?
Yes, we are hiring and growing as a company not only with our headcount but our product offerings too. Spehro is the first robot in our lineup, but we have other robots in development such as robot codenamed as Project 2B
- How is Orbotix and toys like Sphero changing the future of play?
Static toys have been around since the beginning of time. Only recently with technology like our mobile phones and the iPad have there been any fundamental shifts in toys. We frequently have play tests at our office where we invite kids of all ages to come and play with prototype robots and software. We order pizza and spend an hour or two with the participants just playing. It is a magical experience when you see kids getting together to play, smile, and laugh with something that didn’t exist a year ago. We’re creating smiles and enabling their imagination.
- What memory first comes to mind when you felt as if you had impacted or inspired someone else with your product?
Teaching kids how to program is very important to us as a company. We’ve used Sphero in many different ways to do this and most recently one our employees, Jenica Watts, held a class to teach a group of girls how to program. To do this we used Sphero and an application called MacroLab. MacroLab is basically a visual programming app similar to Scratch. At the end of the day the girls had to fill out a worksheet. On that worksheet there was a question that asked “When I grow up, I want to be a ______” and one of the girls put “Sphero Maker”. This is why we do what we do…to inspire kids to want to be an engineer. If we inspire only one kid in the history of our company to become an engineer…we’ve won.
“We order pizza and spend an hour or two with the participants just playing. It is a magical experience when you see kids getting together to play, smile, and laugh with something that didn’t exist a year ago. We’re creating smiles and enabling their imagination.”
It’s companies like Orbotix that are truly using the technology of today to influence the younger generations to expand the way kids play through the power of engineering. It’s not only about “play time” for Orbotix but also the importance of knowledge and education, which leads to most important thing…the team at Orbotix and the kids that are involved with their products are having a wonderful time learning, creating, and playing.