Late a year ago Sphero revealed that it was going to stop producing toy robots based on popular characters such as R2D2, BB-8 and Lightning McQueen.
Sphero's acquisition of littleBits shows that there is, thankfully, still a huge market for educational toys (the official announcement estimates the education technology industry to be worth about $US150 billion [$222 billion]) and that kids aren't completely lost to smartphone games such as Fortnite.
littleBits makes coding kits and modular snap-on kits to teach children basic circuitry while they make models of remote-controlled cars or electric guitars.
It also doesn't hurt that Sphero will now own a portfolio of over 140 patents in robotics, electronics, software, and IoT.
Combined, the companies have seen products reach over six million students worldwide over 35,000 schools, with these technologies helping to drive engineering interest as kids learn to code, among other things. The company claimed that it produces the No. 1 robot in education, available in more than 40,000 schools, clubs, and institutions globally.
Specifically, Sphero has acquired LittleBits, likely in a move to expand its capabilities in the STEM and STEAM world. "There are infinite learning possibilities - and they're all fun".
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"When I studied engineering, it was top down, test-based", said Ayah Bdeir, founder of littleBits. "I hated it and wanted to quit every semester". No one could peel me away from learning, inventing, creating.
Sphero and LittleBits are companies that specialize in areas that are a little different but are part of a common vision, which will probably be strengthened with the acquisition of the second by the former.
At the same time, other consumer robotics startups have faced challenges meeting expectations, with Anki's failure as a notable example.
Sphero said it plans to accelerate its worldwide growth and pursue other acquisitions to expand its portfolio.
"Sphero and LittleBits are on a mission to make hands-on learning fun and memorable", said Paul Berberian, CEO of Sphero. The conference and expo focuses on improving the design, development and manufacture of next-generation healthcare robots.