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In the old days, if you wanted to learn coding, you just buy a book and teach yourself. Or you look at how programs are coded and try to figure out what each line and command does. Not anymore. Today, you have graphical programming that allows you to make robots do a series of actions even without you knowing a line of code. OzoBot makes pocket-sized robots that teach your kids some coding basics.
OzoBot brings together robots and coding in one package with the OzoBot Evo. Evo is the company’s follow-up to Bit, a robot that follows lines that you draw on paper. It has a friction drivetrain and two motors that allow it to wheel itself around, as well as a set of sensors that enables it to make sense of its surroundings.
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The OzoBot Bit can follow the lines you draw and know what color these lines are so that it can speed up or slow down depending on the line’s color. You can also program it to do a set of actions using the OzoBlockly Editor.
The OzoBlockly makes use of graphical blocks, which serve as commands for your Bit to follow. With OzoBlockly, you only drag the commands that you want the Bit to do, including controlling its movements, timing, and lights. When you are done with your program, you will need to turn up the brightness on your tablet or smartphone, turn on and calibrate the Bit, and then place the Bit on your tablet for it to load.
The Bit is designed for kids aged 8 and older, but there are five difficulty modes with the OzoBlockly, from novice to master. If your child is too young and cannot read yet, OzoBlockly has icons that they could use under the novice mode. The advanced mode has more complex programs, and you would encounter some functions involving math.
You can program the robot to spin, skate, zigzag, go backwards and forwards, rotate, go on a small circle, and even weave around objects. Aside from making it move, you can also program its lights. You can have it mimic a police car, disco, traffic, or even Christmas tree lights. You can also choose a light color, set the lights to flash, or let the Bit choose a random color.
The OzoBot Bit packages come with four color code markets, 2 OzoSkins, an activity pack with 25 TEAM activities, stickers, pop-outs, a quick start guide, and a USB charging cable.
Final say about the OzoBot Bit
The OzoBot Bit is a very small programmable robot at only an inch on all sides. It is simple enough for even young kids to enjoy.
Younger kids can just draw thick lines on a piece of paper and the Bit will follow it. They can use different colors to make the Bit behave in a different way. Older kids, on the other hand, can enjoy the graphical programming with OzoBlockly. It can also be used for more serious programming projects. At its core, the OzoBot Bit is a toy that can teach kids and teenagers how to code.
OzoBot Evo is the company’s second entry into the programmable robots space, and it takes what you like about the Bit: it also follows lines, can be programmed using OzoBlockly, and can recognize colors. It’s almost the same size too.
The difference with OzoBot Evo is that you can drive the robot manually. Using the mobile app, you can tell the Evo where to go.
Side-by-side comparison: OzoBot Evo vs. OzoBot Bit
|Price||$99 (Check out the latest price here!)||$45 (Check out the latest price here!)|
|Colors||Crystal white or titanium black||Cool blue or crystal white|
|Ages||8 to 14+||6 to 10|
|STEAM activities included||25||25|
|Free activities on the Web||Yes||Yes|
|New features delivered via firmware upgrades||Yes||No|
Similarities between Evo and Bit
The OzoBot Evo and Bit have the same looks, and they are almost the same size. Both come with two color choices, too. You can use OzoBlockly programming to specify a routine for your robot, or you can go offline and screenless and just use the included marker to draw a line that the robot will follow.
Both are made of tough polycarbonate shell, and have free skins and activities available on the Web. They also use LiPo batteries.
Differences between the OzoBot Evo and Bit
The Evo is more than twice as expensive as the Bit. The OzoBot Evo costs $99, while you only pay $45 for the Bit. There is a reason for this. For one, the Evo is geared towards older children. It has seven LED lights while there is only one light on the Bit.
OzoBot has a partnership with Marvel, and this is the reason why you can buy an optional Marvel skin for both your Bit and Evo. However, only Evo has the Marvel missions feature.
The Evo also has proximity sensors, Bluetooth Smart, expressive sounds, a mobile app, OzoChat and Ozojis. What’s more, the Evo gets new features delivered via firmware upgrades.
What needs to be improved
There is also some sort of disconnect when you have an Evo and you download the app on your phone. The Evo would open a Web browser for you to be able to code. After you code, the mobile app will be the one to transfer your code to your robot.
There are also some problems when you upload your code to the robot. It does not always work, and you would need to force-stop the app, reboot it, or recalibrate the robot. If you change the program in any way, you would need to do all of these again.
Alternatives to OzoBot
There is no doubt that OzoBot is a good way to introduce robotics and programming to kids. It has sounds, lights, movement, and sensors that make it aware of its surroundings. You can also control it remotely, in the case of the Evo. What’s more, it comes with a graphical interface that makes programming easy.
However, if you have older kids who want to go beyond drawing lines and programming a robot, you might want to consider getting a LEGO Mindstorms or an Official Arduino starter kit.
LEGO Mindstorms is not like OzoBot, wherein you already have a ready-made robot out of the box. Mindstorms comes from LEGO after all. You can build your own robot using the pieces included in the box. For the Mindstorms EV3 kit, for instance, you have enough pieces to build five robots. The box contains instructions for one build and you can find the instructions for the remaining four online. Mindstorms takes building with LEGOs a step further by adding a programmable brick. The EV3 Brick, for instance, includes cables, wires, sensors and motors, and it allows you to program routines and movements.
LEGO Mindstorms is perfect for kids 10 years old and up, but we are pretty sure a lot of adults will also find it fun and challenging. Unlike the OzoBot, you are not stuck with a golf ball-sized robot, and you can even create your own robots.
Meanwhile, Arduino is an electronics platform that helps your kids and teenagers build interactive projects. Arduino circuits can read input from sensors or buttons, and it can perform the desired action, like read your Facebook status, turn on one of its LED bulbs, publish something on your behalf, or activate motors.
You can buy the Arduino Starter Kit for only $88 to learn how the system works, and what each part, component, or sensor does. The starter kit has enough parts and it has an instruction guide to create more than a dozen projects. If you want to create more projects or if you have a project in mind, you can just buy more parts and sensors. The things you can create are endless! What’s more, if both the OzoBot and the LEGO Mindstorms teach your kids about coding, Arduino teaches them both coding AND electronics.
On the other hand, if you have younger kids, you can check out the Tinkerbots Advanced Builder Set, which consists of motorized components and a programmable control center. Think of it as a motorized LEGO.
Final Say about the OzoBot Bit and Evo
As an educational tool, the OzoBot Evo and Ozobot Bit will do rather well in making programming easier for kids. But it may not be as easy to use because of the unnecessary steps you need to follow in order to load your codes. It also does not encourage creativity that much, or at least not as well as Mindstorms or Arduino, which requires you to create your own robot.
However, at less than $100 for the Evo and less than $50 for the Bit, the OzoBot is a good investment for parents who want to encourage their kids to pursue STEM.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!