When it comes to Harry Potter wands, there are many out there. Most resemble the movie prop and often include beautifully carved handles and tips. Some, which are designed for children, come with sound effects and LED lights. Similar to a lightsaber, if you will. Most of them, however, are just movie props. There isn’t much to it, or a reason for it. However, a startup that is based in London is attempting to replicate the art of learning, while at the same time attempting to perform magic. Kano is hoping to do this with their new learn-to-code Harry Potter wand kit. As with their other hardware, it comes with a companion app that teaches you programming through block-based logic. This time, however, the challenges produce spells that you control on screen with a plastic wand.
Kano’s first product was a child-friendly Raspberry Pi computer, which also came with a bunch of parts that snapped together like Lego. The wand isn’t quite as a complicated. There are about 6 pieces for a child to put together, but that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. Also, the wand comes with an instruction booklet, so if they do get stuck, they have some guidance. The neat thing about the instruction booklet is that it also explains what all the components are for. One page, for example, breaks down the core chipset, which includes a Bluetooth antenna, microcontroller, vibration motor, a codeable light and other various sensors.
Kano found and Chief Executive Alex Klein had this to say:
“The original purpose of Kano was to take these sealed devices and let people interact with them creatively and understand how they work. Now we’re attempting to do the same with Hollywood. We’re taking these sealed narratives, and these universal characters, and letting people manipulate them creatively.”
In order for the wand to work, you will need a Mac, PC, iPad or Android tablet to run the companion Harry Potter coding app. The design and functionality are similar to the existing Kano app, and Klein confirmed that the two versions will be merged eventually. You start by creating a profile and customizing a small wizard avatar with different clothes and glasses. After that, you’re able to start exploring the wizarding world. As you go along, you must complete tasks in places like Hogsmead, Diagon Alley, the Forbidden Forest and of course, Hogwarts.
We wrote a post a few weeks ago about how Disney is teaming up with Google much in the same way. They are trying to get more children, and more specifically, young girls interested in technology. Their idea isn’t specific to coding, but I think there is a comparison to be drawn. In Disney and Apple’s version, the focus is on princesses. And while I think there are some great messages to be sent to young girls from this particular scenario, I also think it’s a bit sexist. The Harry Potter wand, however, combines technology and entertainment in a way that makes it interesting for kids to learn something new.
The Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit will launch in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand for $99.99 on October 1st. Which is timed really well, considering the launch of the new Fantastic Beasts movie, which comes to theaters on November 16.