Kano launches Harry Potter coding kit

Computing startup Kano’s Harry Potter kit teaches children (and grown ups) how to code with a build-it-yourself wireless wand and Potter-themed app

Potterheads will likely be enchanted by this new piece of digital wizardry from Kano, which teaches users how to code through creating a wireless wand.

The Harry Potter Coding Kit was created by Kano, the East London-based build-it-yourself tech company, in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products. Users can code their own wand, which connects to software and a dedicated app that turns physical movements into effects to let users make serpents slither, toads transfigure, fires flow, feathers float, goblets duplicate, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans enlarge, and more,” says Kano.

The kit is billed as the first Harry Potter STEM product, and teaches users how to code through 70 step-by-step challenges that demonstrate how to connect code blocks, show JavaScript, and use programming loops, logic and variables. Once the wand has been built, there are options to tweak the gravity of the device and swap the sound effects. According to Kano, the kit is aimed at all ages but younger users aged from six to nine might need some parental help. It works across laptop and tablet devices. 

Hand movements are tracked through the wand’s combination of a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer; which work together to detect location and speed. These sensors mean the wand can be used to direct the user’s cursor on-screen. Having created the hardware, users can then play on the app to work through various ‘challenges’ across six different “Wizarding World” settings including Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and The Forbidden Forest.

Kano Creative Director Aaron Hinchion says the Warner Bros. partnership “began with Walmart, and a motion sensor”. In 2017 Kano had launched four new kits, two of which — the Pixel Kit and the Motion Sensor Kit — had a “peculiarly physical element” that could work with any computer. “The Motion Sensor Kit lets you build an infrared sensor that detects distance and direction,” he explains. “By waving your hand above it, you can spin a record, raise and lower a sunrise, strum an air guitar, and code motion-controlled apps with Kano.”

Walmart suggested they show the product to Warner Bros. as “the in-air interaction had the feeling of magic, and they knew Harry Potter was growing”. Kano met with the team in LA and demonstrated products including its flashing paintable Pixel Kit, which we featured last year.

“[We] suggested a connection between our world, where a small class of secretive ‘wizards’ command the realms of computing, code, and machine learning – and the rest of us are stuck as befuddled Muggles, affected by but kept apart from the secret incantations that make the world work,” says Hinchion.

The Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit is currently available to preorder and will be available online worldwide and in US, UK, Australia and New Zealand retailers from 1 October this year.

DESIGNER

Worthing, West Sussex

INDUSTRIAL DESIGNER

Frome, Somerset

SENIOR DESIGNER

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire