Ozobot Bit Review: [ Mini Programmable Line Following Robots]

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I’m rather fond of programmable robots, as you can see if you have read my previous review, and I’ve been meaning to take a look at the Ozobot Bit. The Ozobot Bit is a tiny robot that can follow a line and special color codes either on paper or on a tablet screen.

The robots can also be programmed using the Blocky drag-and-drop programming language. There is no assembly required so the focus as soon as you can take it out of the box is on coding and playing with the robots.

 

Size and Appearance

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

The first thing that you notice about the Ozobot Bit when you take it out of the box, is its size. They are really small, about 1 inch in diameter. Their size enables them to be used on a tablet screen.

As a parent and grandparent, I really like that they don’t take up much space to store. Storage space for us techies is always an issue, but these robots pack away into their included plastic storage cases with all their add-ons and don’t take up much space at all. I also like that you can see the technology inside the Ozobots, especially with the Crystal clear model.

 

Line Following    

                                                                                                                                                                           

The Ozobots are line-following robots. They follow black lines around 5mm(about 0.2 inches) wide on either paper, a whiteboard, or a tablet screen.

It’s pretty neat to be able to have the Ozobot follow a line you have drawn for it. This feature can be kind of tricky, but I have found out that, provided the lines are thick and dark, the following works well.

To make things more interesting, Ozobot can also follow commands that are given as color codes. When Ozobot is on paper the commands are given using sequences of colored blocks. On a tablet, a special flashing code is used instead.

I’ve been able to add color codes to designs on paper. I found that too dark a shade of green didn’t work, but once I found good colors then the codes were read reliably. This is lots of fun and very interactive and hands-on(as you can probably tell, I’m a kid at heart).

It was a bit tricky to have to remember to leave gaps for the color codes when drawing a track. I ended drawing the color codes on sticky labels and then sticking them over a solid black line. This worked just fine and this meant that I didn’t have to do so much forward planning.

 

Ozobot App(aka Ozodraw Creativity in Play)

The main Ozobot app has three different modes that can be used to get the Ozobot to move around the tablet screen following commands. In “Freedraw” mode you can draw tracks with your finger and then add color code commands. “Playground” is similar but you get to add commands to a predrawn track.  And then there’s “Challenge” mode which gets you to add codes to complete courses so that the Ozobot can get to the finish; this one is good for showing what Ozobot is capable of.

 

OzoBlockly

OzoBlockly allows you to program Ozobot using graphical command blocks. This approach will be familiar to children who have used Scratch, Code.org, or other Blockly-based tools.

What wasn’t immediately obvious to me is that OzoBlockly is a web app. It runs in a web browser. You don’t need to install an app on your tablet. Note that because OzoBlockly runs in the browser and programs the Ozobot via flashing colors, it will work on a range of devices. I’ve successfully programmed the Ozobot from a basic Amazon Fire tablet to a 9.5″ Samsung tablet, to a 9.5″ IPad, without having to install anything else. Holding the Ozobot up to a PC screen worked as well. Very neat!

The coding itself is pretty straight forward and it works well. There are icon-based versions of the commands for pre-readers and advanced users can choose to view the JavaScript code, this makes OzoBlockly suitable for a range of ages.

You can control movement, lights, and timing. There are also commands for controlling the line-following and color-reading capability. This means there’s some real depth to what can be achieved with OzoBlockly. OzoBlockly supports line-following and color reading behavior and allows you to control the robot’s movement and RGB LED light.

OzoBlockly also offers drag and drop coding. You can mix and match blocks from different levels so kids are able to use some pre-programmed light sequences(rainbow and fireworks) within a more complex program. You can also program the lights by choosing precise colors and adding in delays.

Ozobot’s behavior is a bit different from some other robots I have programmed, so kids might need some help to figure out how to get certain behaviors and results. I like that you can mix up the line-following behavior and the programmed movement within a single program.

Actually loading the program to Ozobot wasn’t very intuitive. The process is explained in the tutorial video, but the information isn’t really accessible from within the app. There are multiple steps to follow the first time you do this.

1- Turn the brightness up on your device.

2- Calibrate the Ozobot by pressing the “on

 

‘button for at least 2 seconds.

3- Make sure you turn the Ozobot “on” before pressing “LOAD” to load your program into the Ozobot. If the Ozobot doesn’t flash green during loading, then it isn’t working properly and you need to start again.

4- Double click the “power button” to run the code- you can do this as many times you like.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 whenever you change your code. Remember to turn Ozobot “on” before pressing “LOAD”.

This process will become easier once you’ve done it a few times, but takes a bit of thought the first time.

Being able to program Ozobots is a great feature to have.

 

Note: to code with OzoBlockly you need a tablet or a laptop.

 

Line Reading Behavior

Out of the box, Ozobot is a line following robot that reads color code commands. The line-following behavior can still be accessed in custom coding mode. You can tell Ozobot to continue until the next intersection or line end. At intersections, Ozobot will choose a random direction.

The line colors change at an intersection as Ozobot decides which way to go. Other behaviors could be added here in the future. If a line-end is found(a dead end) then Ozobot turns around and carries on its journey.

 

Line End Color Detection

When Ozobot reaches the end of a path, it can check for a particular color. I’ve used this feature by adding small colored stickers at the end of paths to tell Ozobot what to do. This project is a work in progress, but at the moment a blue path end sticker indicates an Ozobot home. Ozobot will turn its light blue and takes a rest when it finds home.

 

More Games and Activities

There are also browser-based Blockly games for the Ozobot and more coming soon. This gives additional structured content for learning to code with the Ozobot while having fun. There are also printable activity sheets for Blockly which provide even more ideas to play.

 

Options for Creativity

 

 

My Ozobot came with a cool helmet, but it’s also fun to find or make other accessories for it to wear. Their small size means that it’s easy for kids to make an environment for the Ozobots to explore. I can see a play table being converted into OzoWorld in the near future. With larger robots, this just isn’t feasible to the same extent as it would take so much space.

 

Power

Ozobot charges quickly via a USB(30-40 minutes for a full charge) and a compact cable is included. This is really convenient and it works well. Ozobot claims around 90 minutes of play time from a full charge. This quite a long play session. It’s a good idea to charge Ozobot after play(the light goes solid green when fully charged) so it’s ready to go next time.

 

Value for Money

The Ozobot Bit might be small but it’s packed with cool technology. It’s a really well-designed, well-thought package. The technology itself is great, the charging works well, practical storage is included and there is plenty of content available at no extra cost and multiple modes of play and learning. It’s also suitable for a wide age range so it’s a great choice for families ant it’s a good tech toy to grow with a child rather than quickly get outgrown.

When you take all of this into account the Ozobot Bit represents good value for the money.

 

Conclusion

The Ozobot Bit is a great programmable robot. It can be used for both entertainment and real coding. It’s a great choice if you have a small home or if you need tech up on a table out of the reach of young children. There is’s plenty of fun and educational content available so kids won’t be stuck for things to try with the Ozobots and there’s plenty of opportunity of free play with the skills they have learned.

You get a small close-fitting case so that the Ozobot can safely be put in a bag to take to a friend’s house and there’s also a larger case to take the Ozobot and all its accessories. This is really well thought through and much appreciated.

The line-following and color code reading doesn’t always work perfectly, but to figure out why is part of the process, and it is much more reliable than I was expecting. Loading code into the Ozobot was a bit confusing the first time, but it is straightforward after a few practices.

For me, it’s the OzoBlockly coding that is the best feature. Having small robots that can be properly programmed from a child’s tablet and easily moved to wherever they want to play is definitely a big plus.

 

What’s included in the Starter Pack?

1 Ozobot Bit coding robot, 4 color code markers, 2 DIY skins, 25 STEM activities, DIY stickers and pop-outs, Quick Start Guide, charging cable.

The Ozobot Bit is designed for children 5 years old and up.

For a quick video overview of the Ozobot Bit click here.

Get the OZOBOT BIT at the Lowest Price Here

 

I hope you have enjoyed this review and if you have any questions about the Ozobot Bit or any of its accessories, or if you want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment below I will get back to you as soon as I can.

 

 

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