Sony has launched an IndieGogo campaign for KOOV, a coding and robotics kit aimed at children.
The product is pitched at "the next generation of innovators", which appears to mean children aged 8 years and up. A KOOV kit allows the user to build robots using a colourful set of blocks, which can be fitted with sensors, actuators and other components.
These creations can then be programmed using an associated app. A KOOV kit will also include a, "comprehensive, 30+ hour educational course focussing on coding, robotics and design."
"KOOV comes with everything your child needs to start building robots, make them move with code and share them with other young inventors from across the globe," Sony wrote on the KOOV IndieGogo page.
The funding target for KOOV has been set at $100,000, of which $21,00 had been raised from 66 backers at the time of writing. There are only three tiers, all of them relatively expensive: $287, $349 and $399.
A statement from Sony's Global Education team - which was established in 2015 - explained that it chose IndieGogo as a way of working "with parents to gain feedback on KOOV and ensure our offerings are the best they can be. Already, thousands of children across Japan and China are using KOOV, but we want to learn from the parents and children of the USA to make a great product even better."
The Global Education team developed the KOOV concept based on the need to engage young children in STEM subjects. "Recognizing that the skills needed in 20 years may differ greatly from what is needed today, KOOV helps children develop key 21st Century Skills, setting them up to become the innovators of tomorrow."
Sony has a clear interest in crowdfunding as a way of testing the market for new products. This came to the attention of gamers when it announced the Kickstarter campaign for Shenmue 3 onstage at E3; a move that helped the game to raise $6.3 million, but one that drew some criticism due to the company's considerable financial resources.
In July 2015, it launched First Flight, a crowdfunding platform for new ideas and products from its staff. When First Flight was announced, Sony said, "the platform will give nascent projects the opportunity to ascertain the actual needs of the market; realize a co-creation model of product development and improvement through direct dialogue with customers; and ensure timely sales operations that are also optimal for their business size."