This toy robot is teaching programming for kids through interactive and intuitive play.
President and Representative Director Toshiko Tsuchiya introduced us to ICON, a Yokohama-based company that will be debuting internationally at TechDay New York in May 2019.
We’ve announced and already begun sales of our new project: a toy robot dubbed “KUMIITA,” which teaches real programming concepts through fun, intuitive play. Programming for kids has already entered the spotlight in Japan: starting in 2020, programming and coding classes will become a compulsory part of the curriculum at Japanese elementary schools. KUMIITA is designed to teach children from 7 months to 12 years old about the very basics of programming and coding, and the mini robot itself comes with a colorful assortment of “command panels” which control its movement. A total of 40 panels are bundled with KUMIITA, each featuring illustrations and symbols that represent commands ranging from the simple “go straight,” to more advanced commands like those introducing forks in the road. These command panels can be creatively rearranged to guide the robot to its goal.
Each panel contains specialized built-in programming code which the robot reads when passing over it. By combining and re-combining these individual panels into new patterns and sequences, the user can create over 100,000 unique paths for KUMIITA to travel, creating virtually unlimited entertainment and learning value. As a new toy developed for children 7 months and older, KUMIITA complies with and has received certifications from the Japan Toy Safety Standard (as well as CE marking).
“When we’ve had trouble or questions, IDEC Yokohama has been there to help however they can.”
Our first challenge was production. After all, ICON started out as a software company. To create a hardware product, we first needed to find cooperators and partners. After various consultations, we found partners and market development support from within Yokohama and its Industrial Development Corporation (IDEC). When we’ve had trouble or questions, IDEC Yokohama has been there to help however they can.
KUMIITA currently retails at 55,000 yen (around $500 at the current exchange rate) and is being sold through major department stores in Japan, as well as Amazon Japan and Rakuten’s online marketplaces. ICON and KUMIITA have garnered a lot of attention from outside Japan as well, receiving around 30 inquiries per day from all over the globe, including from North America, Europe, and Taiwan.
The learning experience that KUMIITA provides is completely nonverbal and transcends language, so we’re excited to introduce it all over the world.
Interviewed by IDEC Yokohama
|Company Name||ICON Corp.|
|Headquarters||Sanei Bld.3F, 13-19, Daimachi, Kanagawa-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, 221-0834, Japan|
|Contact (Inquiries about KUMITA)||
|Capital||JPY 98.15 million|
|Management||Toshiko Tsuchiya, President and Representative Director|
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