Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fly Pen eToy Tutor

I've been seeing ads for this on TV for a couple of months and keep forgetting what it's called (ironic, huh?) so it wasn't until now I could check it out online.

The "Fly Pentop" is a handheld device with a miniature camera, mini-speaker and mini-CPU that "watches" as you write and provided you "ask" it for help, will coach you in the limited subjects available. The product just launched last year, at the start of the school year, and is aimed to elementary and middle school ages, with school subjects like Math (multiplication/division, fractions, basic algebra) or English (check out the "Writing" module with its Simile Starter--I kid you not!)

The NY Times article from November, 2005 gives a good overview of the Fly's capabilities. I don't see the term "pentop" catching on just yet but I do wish them luck. The Fly's source, LeapFrog company, has accomplished more than merely coining new terms, producing some of the best learning aids and games around for children and young adults. The Fly looks like it would be a pretty fun eToy for adults, too. I think they need to consider, however, some kind of jack to plug in your earpods or another way to control the volume on the voice the Fly uses to give feedback. It's a great idea but definitely will see changes and improvements in second- and third-generation designs. Can't wait!

At a cost of only $100, with add-on modules (Flyware) running about $35 each for the learning modules or games at $10-$20 each, the Fly is going to start showing up everywhere--provided any of us can remember it's name.


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