The FlowPaw system consists of a main board shaped like a paw print provided with four sockets to allow the connection of expansion boards or ‘claws’ fitted with sensors and output devices (there are currently around 20 claws designed for the system). It is targeted at first-time coders and uses the graphical programming language FlowStone which was also developed by DSP Robotics, the company behind the FlowPad design.
The concept is geared to a hands-on approach; the company are sure that having something physical to program is much more interesting than just seeing something happening on a screen. With just a few components a child can easily wire up a button to play a sound or turn an LED on. It’s simple stuff but it’s incredibly rewarding.
According to their crowd funding site they have “watched children’s reactions to this system and they just love it. By making programming fun a child is instantly engaged in what they are doing and they’ll push on to learn more. Our FlowStone software is incredibly visual and immediate in its nature. You don’t need to learn about source files or compilers before you can get started. Just drag a few components to your schematic and you’re up and running. What’s more, everything you do runs in real time. No building and testing - it all happens instantly.”
The project is getting close to the end of its campaign on KickStarter and is currently within a hair’s breath of being funded. At the time of writing there are still a few early-backer packages available (all gone now!) where the system could be nabbed for just £85.