How many schools are using Solly at the moment?
“Sixty, more or less. The Solly robot at Wittering primary school in Rosmalen, for example, is sponsored by Essent. The school is incredibly modern and can be seen as a role model to other schools.”
What have the reactions been?
“Children are really enthusiastic, fascinated even. Hopefully, Solly will inspire them to become inventors or designers in the future. Also, the teachers give me positive feedback, even the old-fashioned ones that like to stay away from technology.”
Is there any competition?
“I don’t know any educational company or software developer that does things the way we do it, in such a combination of hardware and method. Solly gives children interactive educational experience. The biggest hardware competitor of BYOR is Littlebits: small electronical parts which you can put together. They focus mostly on investigating new electronics.”
What does one lesson with Solly look like?
“For example, you go outside to take solar and wind measurements! No place is the same, and the possibility of big differences become clear. ‘Solly lessons’ differ depending on age. For young children, the concept of a robot is explained. The basic knowledge of robotics is the focus. Later, energy is induced, and then, finally, the oldest children will read and interpret the results of the experiments and make graphs of the data.”
What does the earning model look like?
“The educational software package for school’s costs between 600 and 4.000 euros, this could be for just one class or the entire school. The BYOR, with the consumer market as target, costs between 65 and 99 euro, and can be further extended through lose parts.”
Would you like to use the robot also for different purposes, like to teach counting?
“I don’t believe in such a thing because a robot cannot replace a teacher. Definitely, it will happen, but it won’t be in the near future. Solly can be used in education, only merely as support, not as substitute.”
Where will Solly and BYOR be in ten years?
“We want to expand our distribution, and start up a community for children, inventors and artists. In that community, people who are interested can share videos about robot building and they can acquire more knowledge about science, technology and sustainability. When that’s successful, we could, perhaps, launch a think tank. Besides, we’re currently working on little attachments for small motors. In ten years, I hope that I’ve got more to offer with respect to variation and opportunities.”
What has the participation on the Accenture Innovation Awards brought you?
“This year, we participated for the third time. We started off with no prototype of Solly. This year we were in the semi-finals and got a lot of publicity. RTL Bright put us in the spotlight in their broadcast. The promotion of Renault Life is valuable as well.”