In September 2021, Minister of Works Fadillah Yusof envisions our construction sites to be “almost human-free” by 2050, with robots taking over many jobs in the industry. It is undeniable that robotics and programming are going to be a huge part of the job market in the future. Luxrobo, a South Korean robotics company, realised this and found a lack in robotics education in the South Korean school syllabus.
To fill that educational void, Luxrobo made Modi and is now it expanding it to other countries including Malaysia.
What is Modi?
Modi is described as the world’s first ‘Robotics of Things’ platform and it is essentially a modular robotics kit. A Modi kit comprises of small magnetic blocks that act as circuit components, like a sensor, a speaker, or light module. However, you do not need to arrange them in a complete circuit, since it’s meant to mirror an ‘input to output’ coding setup. Compared to making circuits on a breadboard, there aren’t any exposed open circuits in Modi which makes it a little safer for children.
Luxrobo proposes Modi as an educational tool for not just children but adult students as well. Dennis Hong, a Mechanical Engineering professor from UCLA even used Modi with his master students for his robotics class.
The modules included in the kits are also programmable, enabling students to code on a computer and have the physical module respond to the code. The programming can be done in conventional languages like Python and also easier ‘code block’ methods like Scratch or their proprietary Modi Studio platform.
It seems like Luxrobo has been successful in South Korea, selling more than 50,000 Modi units and implementing it into the curriculum of 1,000 schools. This success led to Luxrobo signing a memorandum of understanding with the education departments of 11 SEAMEO (Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization) countries.
Luxrobo started back in 2014, but if you look for ‘modular robots’ online, you can find other products doing it like ‘Cubelets’ which started in 2010. Still, even if it’s not an original idea, Modi seems like a fun way to teach both programming and robotics at the same time.
Availability and pricing
The company has sealed major distribution deals in Japan, China, and Mongolia, and plan to expand to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines by Q1 2022.
Luxrobo has not announced any local pricing yet, but the most popular Modi product ‘Designer Kit’ is priced at KRW 242,000 (about RM864) and in the US it’s priced at USD 220 (about RM927), so we can expect it to be in that price range. Compared to Lego’s ‘Creative Toolbox’ robotics kit that costs RM680, the Modi kit is more expensive, but it’s difficult to compare them as Modi seems more modular and versatile.