The constant development in the science of information technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics and technology in general results in the introduction and use of new technologies in people’s daily lives. Through the daily use of computers, smart devices (smartphones / tablets) but also various other electronic devices, children come into contact with modern technologies from an early age (6-7 years), form a friendlier perception of them in relation to previous generations and this leads to their spontaneous technical and technological education. In addition, the field of computer programming is dynamically penetrating Greek schools, teaching children how to use a variety of software tools to solve real problems.
TekTrain proposes an innovative architecture on which to develop a Software Framework and a range of smart devices, thus providing the necessary tools and interfaces so that educating children and young people in cutting-edge technologies, with an emphasis on robotics, is easy and fast. The proposed works are divided into 4 axes:
Design and development of a smart device with interactive interfaces. The first axis of the project concerns the creation of a smart device that will include specific sensors and actuators (camera, microphones, distance sensors, motors, etc.) which can be adapted at will. Based on the principles of model-oriented software design, TekTrain will allow users with relatively little experience and know-how, through a software library, to obtain information from the sensors and activate its components.
Implementation of cloud network services to provide specialized algorithms when designing and executing applications on smart devices. The second axis of the project aims to provide cloud network services which implement specialized algorithms in the fields of mechanical vision, sound processing, etc. which are widely used in the field of robotics and specifically in the field of computational intelligence. Thanks to the high-level abstract languages provided by TekTrain for programming the TekTrain device, these web services can be used to create “smart” educational applications with minimal effort.
Implementation of an online software platform that will provide a range of tools and interfaces for designing, developing, storing, and distributing applications. The third axis focuses on the implementation of a web platform through which the user will be able to create applications using graphic languages such as drag and drop or Scratch languages  which allow students to focus on developing algorithmic thinking and understanding the basics. concepts of robotics and the internet of things, without requiring time-consuming learning of standard programming languages.
Pilot testing of the platform and network services in combination with the developed smart device and evaluation of their usability and effectiveness. Finally, the web platform will support the storage and sharing of implemented applications in the application Stores standards, making it easy to download and run them on any smart device with simple steps.
For this reason, two Focus Groups were conducted, in which interviews with teachers took place, in order to highlight their real needs and difficulties in teaching robotics in the school environment. The first focused on the functions that TekTrain should have in order to cope with its educational purpose as well as the morphological characteristics of the device and its graphical environment, in order to be attractive to children. The second focused on the quality features that TekTrain must have in order to be safe for school use, to be able to cope with the existing school infrastructure based on its networking needs, to provide graphical interfaces that are user-friendly for the age groups in which addresses and allows its use by the maximum possible number of children, combating as much as possible the social exclusion of children with special needs.
The result of the workshops demonstrated the basic needs for robotics training in school, such as the ability to gradually learn how to properly use sensors, actuators and intelligent algorithms when creating an application, as well as the ability to use graphic languages that do not require long training in the concepts of planning but allow children to focus on the problem to be solved. In addition, the need to enable cooperation between teachers in order to support the educational process in the best possible way, while being able to monitor the performance of their students in a way that allows them to identify their difficulties individually. Finally, it is very important to be able to easily inform parents about the educational activities that take place in the field of robotics, in order to encourage, push and support their children to understand and use new technologies.
The system architecture is divided into two distinct entities: the online software platform and the smart device.
The Platform is implemented in the cloud and integrates a database with ontological and non-ontological, algorithms for extracting information from the internet and intelligent algorithms.