If you have ever taken one of those classes in college that aims to, for example, teach you “physics as related to popular movies,” then you’ve already experienced what “fun education” is supposed to be like. Now, with a Kickstarter campaign that already reached its funding goal, educational company Puzzlebox aims to give everyone the chance to own a toy helicopter you control with your brain, and learn something along the way.
Rather than teaching you how Spider-Man should actually be able to swing around New York like in that college course, Puzzlebox includes educational hardware and software guides with each helicopter. Dubbed the Puzzlebox Orbit, the goal of the toy is to not only make you feel like you have telekinetic powers, but to learn something about building and customizing your own hardware and software.
Puzzlebox aims to release lessons on how brain-controlled devices actually work, as well as how infrared signals can pilot the helicopter. With the Puzzlebox Orbit, Puzzlebox is testing their hypothesis that this kind of product can not only be a successful educational tool, but be commercially viable. Now that the project has hit its goal, Puzzlebox will freely release and distribute all of the material related to the Orbit, such as hardware schematics and source code.
The Orbit is a toy helicopter encased in a protective orb, in order to prevent the toy’s blades from bumping into objects it might fly into. Puzzlebox notes that while RC helicopters have a reputation for being fragile, their Orbit has survived multiple falls and crashes throughout the testing process.
Puzzlebox is offering two models of brain-controlled helicopter — one that can be controlled with smartphones and tablets, and one self-contained unit that comes with the pyramid stand pictured above. The units are controlled via a NeuroSky MindWave Mobile EEG headset, but simply use a different base of communications — a mobile device or the pyramid. The Orbit receives infrared signals from either communications base, but the pyramid station is capable of sending out infrared signals that can be programmed to control other IR-based toys, or even a television.
Now, your brain can’t tell the helicopter to fly in complicated aerial patterns. However, different patterns — such as hovering, or flying across a room — can be set to specific mental states that are measured by the headset. Once the specific mental state is maintained, the signal is sent off to the helicopter, and the Orbit flies in the appropriate pattern.
Though the project has already met its minimum funding goal of $ 10,000, there are still 16 days left to back the project, and some neat rewards for doing so. A small pledge of $ 10 will get your name added to a list of sponsors included on the website and within the software, whereas a pledge of $ 149 will net you an Orbit system along with NeuroSky headset.
If you want to back the project, or are simply interested in learning more, head on over to the Kickstarter page before the funding phase is over in a couple weeks.