Dubai: While robots are going to becoming more and more present in our everyday lives, a Dubai-based start-up Junkbot’s strategy is to push children to create their own robots in order to develop an interest in robotics.
Junkbot is a do-it-yourself robotic kit which helps children to make their own robots and gadgets by recycling things around them such as cardboards, old CDs, plastic water bottles, tea or coffee cups, etc.
By building that, Ehteshamuddin P. A, co- founder and CEO of the start-up, said that children learn science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM).
Junkbot built its first prototype in 2015 and now has different versions.
“When I was a child, my childhood friend and co-founder used to break electronic toys and remove components and build a new one with thermocool and cardboards. That time, no one was there as a guide to help us make it a passion.
“When I was in Dubai, I met the co-founder and he was into robotics. Then we decided to make robots from junk and give this power to children to create their own robots in order to develop an interest in robotics,” he said.
When children see a robot made of junk, he said that they get excited. It gives them the impression that robotics is easy. It gives them confidence enough to say, “Okay, even I can do that. And that creates an interest in learning more about robotics. Each kit includes a pre-programmed brain, different types of sensors and connecting cables.”
Even though the buyers are parents, he said the end users are the kids.
“We provide the educational box and make children think outside the box. The kits cost Dh300 and Dh500 respectively, depending on the versions. The mission is to have inventors in every household. That is when the real change will happen. The world is moving towards robotics and artificial intelligence, and 75 per cent of the future jobs need the STEAM concept,” Ehteshamuddin said.
He said that current generation of kids has the resources to learn about robotics and do something about robotics.
Junkbot is already selling kits to schools in the UAE and expanding into markets such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. The kits will be available in retail and online stores soon.
It is also thinking of launching a subscription model in a tie-up with telecom operators.
The start-up is holding ‘Junkbot Olympics’ with Gems Wellington School.
He said the concept is to build 100 robots by one school. Three kids form a group and build one robot while the parents are also invited to see the celebration.
The start-up has already aroused some interest in the field. They got a seed funding of $30,000 from DP World’s Turn8 incubator programme initially and a grand from Chile government of $40,000.
So far, Junkbot has raised revenues of $400,000.
“We are looking to raise money as we need it to manufacture our third version. We are looking for $500,000,” Ehteshamuddin said.
In the third version, he said that Junkbot has made the connectivity cable magnetic and apps store for robotics. The apps store will initially have built by us and we will open the store for third-party developers.
He said that every child can be an inventor and all they need is the tool to enable them to think and create.