I have no idea if friendship bracelets are still a thing, but Jewelbots is trying to bring them into the 21st century — and it’s trying to teach kids the basics of programming at the same time. The company ran a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this summer and today, Jewelbots is competing in our Hardware Battlefield at CES.
Three Jewelbots bracelets will set you back $69, and they should ship later this spring. You get a discount for buying a pack with two or three bracelets, too (this is, after all, about sharing with your friends).
You can pair your Bluetooth-enabled bracelets, which all feature four LEDs and a button, with the company’s mobile apps for iOS and Android. Then, using the button, you can send messages to your pre-selected friends. Jewelbots can also talk to each other and you can program them to react when one of your bracelet-wearing friends is nearby.
Jewelbots is only partly about the bracelets, though.
“When MySpace was a big thing, knowing HTML and CSS was cool, and now that Minecraft is big, kids want to make awesome models so they’re coding in Java,” Jewelbots co-founder Sarah Chipps told us earlier this year. “We’re trying to reverse engineer that with Jewelbots.”
You can write apps that light up the bracelet when you get a new Instagram like, for example, or have it vibrate when you get a new Twitter follower. Writing these basic if/then-style apps should be pretty straightforward, but should provide a basic introduction to programming logic.
Because the actual bracelets won’t ship until later this year, the company will also ship a basic set with an ArduinoGemma controller, LEDs, batteries and conductive thread to everybody who pre-orders so they can start programming before their bracelets arrive.