MOSS is a modular kit with electronic blocks transformed in a kinematic robot construction system that does not require wires or to write any programming line. The magic word is ‘fun’ because using the MOSS blocks you can feel like an engineer even you have 8 years old.
Digging inside the modular system you can find a lot of innovative technologies that makes the MOSS simple, intuitive, and a good tool for learning about robots and how they works.
Even from outside it seems to be a simple modular system, the magic blocks were designed after many years of research and studying several areas including science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
As a short overview, the system consists of a set of cubes with sensors, inputs, outputs, and colors for easy assembly the parts.
For a platform dedicated to learning how to control a robot and how to interface several blocks to form a working system, probably you don’t expect to be a system that works without wires and writing any programming line. The biggest surprise is that the MOSS can work even without these essential parts that can be found in a Lego EV3 robot or a DIY robot for example.
The wires have been replaced with a single button contact able to send the power and data, while the ground passes through the steel spheres.
With several years of research, the MOSS system was started in 2010 with several sketches, ideas, and thousands of prototypes.
This is not the first and perhaps not the last modular system, but there is something very interesting. All the electronic blocks use over-molded neodymium magnets and carbon steel ball bearings to build a wide variety of constructions. You don’t have to worry about the magnets because they are strong enough to keep the blocks closed even for large constructions.
With just one sphere you make a ball joint. With two spheres you make a hinge, and with three or four you create a rigid structure.
To reduce the risk of spoiling the magnets, the magnets are over-molded into the plastic shells.
The MOSS system is powered by rechargeable Li-Polymer battery that can be recharged using a simple Micro-USB cable connected to a PC.
How does the MOSS work?
To show you how the MOSS work, I must return to the magnets that are used to swing or hinge the blocks, as well as building a great variety of structures.
Each electronic block has a different color on faces, which has the role to understand how the blocks are used to make things move and light up.
The code of colors
- Yellow – the yellow face has the role to supply power to other modules;
- Blue and Green – blue is data output, while the green is the input. When you see these colors means that your block conduct data;
- Pink – the pink face can pass any signal including data or to transfer the power. The cube colored in pink is a flexible module that can fit in a wide range of structures;
- Black – the black color is used for sensors or input mechanism;
Your functional structure has to start with a power block, and followed by other electronic cubes arranged in a manner that allows the movement. There aren’t limits, you can use almost any shape allowed by the smart blocks.
Using additional components, the MOSS robot can become a really intelligent system able to communicate wireless and perform several tasks such as object detection.
You can add to the blocks collection a Bluetooth add-on, and a light sensor along with other accessories that expand the area of use for the MOSS kit.
Control the MOSS
You can remote control the MOSS using Android or iOS mobile devices and the Bluetooth expansion module that lets you to receive and send data to electronic blocks in real-time.
The MOSS system is labeled for children older than 8 years, and is an educational platform able to start building different things using simple electronic blocks and the imagination.
This is not the Lego Mindstorms kit, but it can be a powerful tool if you use it for getting started with robots. You can use the smart blocks to build several structures including a vehicle that follow your hand movements, a robot able to grasp objects, or an intelligent system that can detect objects.
MOSS is a great platform that can be a real success as an educational kit even the Advanced Builder kit costs $480, while the basic kit has a price of $150.
We can build robots after new rules and this we can learn from the MOSS intelligent blocks, which provide us an innovative way to link several blocks and build a functional structure. Starting from April or May you can try yourself and put in scene the magnetic blocks.