Finch Dreams

Finch Dreams is a graphical, drag and drop programming environment for Finch heavily based on Carnegie Mellon's Alice 2.2 software. Like Alice, it allows you to create a three dimensional world with characters that move and interact with one another. Additionally, you can create programs that move the Finch (in the real world), set its beak LED, or cause it to buzz. Finch sensor data can also be used to affect objects in the world, for example, you can use the Finch's accelerometer to move an object in the animated world. Finch Dreams allows students to easily create exciting programs that merge events and data from the virtual and real worlds to make games, visualizers, and more.

Note that Finch Dreams is not intended to be a simulator: the representation of the Finch will not move if movement commands are sent to the real Finch. 


Software Package Windows Mac OSX Linux
FinchDreams Download Download N/A


Get started with our Finch Dreams tutorial


The Finch Dreams download includes five example worlds demonstrating the different types of programs that can be written. They are:

  • FinchAvoidsObstacles. This program uses the obstacle sensors to have the Finch avoid obstacles. If an obstacle is detected, the animation displays a wall in front of the detecting obstacle sensor. A good example of a traditional robot program.
  • FinchBowling. In this program, the Finch's X and Y accelerometers are used to direct a bowling ball; if the ball hits the pins, the Finch's beak lights up green; if the ball rolls off the pier, the Finch's beak lights up red. An example of using Finch sensors to create a game.
  • FinchControl. This program uses key-press events to create a simple keyboard controller for driving around Finch. The arrows control Finch's direction.
  • FinchHockey. Much like FinchBowling, this example uses the accelerometers to move a hockey puck towards a net.
  • FinchTurnOnTheLights. This program uses the Finch's light sensors to control the brightness of a point light over the scene. If the light sensors detect less light, the entire scene grows dimmer. A good example of using Finch Dreams to visualize the Finch's sensor data.

In addition to these examples, there are a number of stock examples that also come with Alice 2.2. These all begin with "NoFinch" to indicate that they do not demonstrate Finch-specific features of the software.

Known Issues

In Windows 7, the Welcome! window that displays when the software is first loaded takes up to one minute to become responsive. Similarly, loading an example off the Welcome! window can take an additional minute.

On some Mac Lion (10.7) computers, Finch Dreams hangs on the splash screen. This seems to be a 32-bit/64-bit conflict, if the program does not launch within 2 minutes, try these instructions.

Please contact us if you have any other problems with the release.


Can Finch Dreams load worlds from Alice 2.2?

Yes, you can load worlds created or edited in Alice 2.2 into Finch Dreams.

Can you load Finch Dreams worlds into Alice 2.2?

Yes, though the Finch won't work and worlds that use Finch will hang or crash.

Is Finch Dreams a simulator for the Finch?

No. The Finch graphic does not move - it is simply there to indicate that you have access to the real Finch. An early version of the software showed the Finch graphic moving whenever a movement command was sent to the real Finch, but we discontinued this for two reasons: movement could not be made to correspond accurately between the real and virtual worlds, and in tests with students, everyone looked at the real Finch when it was moving, and no one seemed to mind that the Finch graphic was stationary.

Why isn't it simply called Finch and Alice?

CMU's license prevents derivatives of Alice from including the word Alice, although in this case we probably could have received permission. Disney also owns a number of trademarks related to Alice, and we didn't want to get a nasty letter from them.

Version Information

Version 1.01 is now available and has been tested on Windows XP/7 and Mac OSX 10.5/6/7.