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Coding startup Play-i snaps up £5m in funding

California startup Play-i has raised $8 million (£4.8 million) to bring code-teaching robots Bo and Yana to life.

The company had already crowdsourced $1 million (£600,000) late last year, garnering almost 11,000 pre-orders for the robots aimed at youngsters.

This time around, Play-i worked with investors Madrona Venture Group and Charles River Ventures to help "bring learning and play to millions of children around the world," Play-i's June Lin wrote in a blog post.

"Your contribution to our crowdfunding campaign will go directly towards bringing Bo and Yana to you. Building robots actually costs more than you might think."

The latest round of funding, according to Play-i, will be put toward hiring a team of engineers to build the robots' software platform, ensuring "hundreds of hours of play," Lin said.

Interested developers can apply to create apps for the robots online.

Bo and Yana burst onto the scene in October, with the hope that cute robots with colourful accessories could entice children to get excited about coding. Aimed at kids five years old and upwards, the play-based programming system combines music, stories, and animation to let users control Bo and Yana — blue-and-orange rolling robots with unique personalities and different coding needs.

Children gain direct access to the Scratch and Blockly programming libraries, which offers simple, preset code options to teach kids the basics before eventually writing their own code.

The robots connect via Bluetooth to a number of iOS-based devices, including the iPhone 4S and up, iPad Air, iPad 3, iPad mini, and the fifth-generation iPod touch. Check out Bo doing the Harlem Shake in the video above, created by students at Palo Alto High School in California.

Earlier this week, Raspberry Pi teamed up with Workshare to help teach kids how to code.