Kids these days will never know how good they have it. While nothing beats the adventure of playing outside and getting hands dirty in the mud, this generation also gets to pair the outdoors with a seemingly endless roster of “smart” toys that foster 21st-century skills—toys like the Chatterbox AI Speaker Bot.
As the Kickstarter page so quaintly puts it, the Chatterbox is like an Amazon Alexa or Siri for kids; the most significant difference being kids will craft and program it themselves. The easiest part is building the chipboard body of the Chatterbox. By snapping off the individual chipboard pieces off a board and following the included instructions, the body can be assembled in no time.
Where the fun (and learning) really comes in is when kids learn how to program the Raspberry Pi 3B+ computer that provides intelligence for the speaker. Using the Chatterbox Skill Builder program on a computer, kids can drag and drop code commands for the Raspberry Pi to recognize.
For example, saying the phrase “good morning” can prompt the Chatterbox to give your child the current date, time, and notify them that they overslept again on a school day. Voice commands are picked up using the Chattervoice HAT (hardware attached on top) and microphone. These commands are analyzed, and audio from the Chatterbox comes out of an onboard speaker. Apart from the date and time, Chatterbox can also be used to do other Amazon Alexa-inspired tasks like control lights, play music, tell the weather, message and call family members, and answer any nagging questions kids may ask you when you want to take a break.
If you’re wondering if Chatterbox is precisely like an Amazon Alexa or Siri in that it always listens to your kids, spies on them, and collects their private data then you can rest easy; Chatterbox only works when your child pushes a big yellow button on top of the robot.
Chatterbox is supposed to teach your child three skills: critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving. While the first and the third skills are learned through assembling and programming the speaker bot, communication can quickly be discovered if your kids just went outside and made some friends their age. Still, 2 out of 3 skills isn’t bad, and your kids could very well be on their way to becoming the next Elon Musk.
The Chatterbox Kickstarter project has currently amassed $52,387 – five times its initial goal of $10,000. You can find more of this cardboard companion over on the Chatterbox Kickstarter page.