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MiiPC: Android-powered PC lets parents monitor kids' online activity


April 1, 2013

The MiiPC uses a Marvell dual core 1.2GHz processor running Android Jelly Bean 4.2

The MiiPC uses a Marvell dual core 1.2GHz processor running Android Jelly Bean 4.2

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It's a fact of the digital age that parents will worry about what their children get up to online. While some try to address this by teaching their kids how to behave safely online, others will simply place a family computer in a shared room and lurk behind young users watching what they do. The MiiPC is an Android-powered PC for children which allows parents to monitor and control what they are doing via a parental control mobile app.

Launching on Kickstarter, the MiiPC is a compact Android-powered computer which can connect to a monitor or TV and gives your children the big computer experience, without letting them loose on yours. With the ability to use a keyboard and mouse and being designed for large screen connectivity (up to 1080p), it means they can surf the web, run apps, play games and watch videos in the same way they could on most PCs. It works with Flash and runs standard Android apps.

But, what's sure to make the MiiPC even more attractive to online-safety-conscious/paranoid moms and dads, is the parental controls and snooping powers it gives them. In addition to being able to set up different user accounts for members of the family – with access to age-appropriate apps and websites – parents can monitor exactly what their kids are doing.

A companion mobile app (available for iOS or Android) gives parents access to real-time information about what is being done on the MiiPC, and by who. It can show whether the computer is in use, what's currently running, which apps or websites have been accessed most recently, and cumulative usage totals … handy if you discover little Tommy is running up hours of Angry Birds when he claims he's doing his homework.

The app also allows parents to control what can be used by different members of the family – in a bid to help create a safe online environment for users who might not be equipped/inclined to do this themselves. Options include turning on/off access to particular apps or websites, setting time limits for usage of apps and sites, including which days certain things can be used and how long per day.

On a technical side, the MiiPC uses a Marvell dual core 1.2GHz processor running Android Jelly Bean 4.2. It will be available with either 1GB or 2GB of RAM and has 4GB of internal flash memory (expandable via SD Slot and USB port). There's WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), 10/100Mb Ethernet, and Bluetooth (4.0) along with two USB 2.0 ports, speaker and microphone jacks. The HDMI port can output at 1080p/720p.

While the MiiPC will ship with a number of apps pre-installed – including productivity software such as KingSoft Office suite – parents will have access to Google Play and other Android Markets such as Amazon AppStore to add more.

Having already exceeded its Kickstarter target of US$50,000, the MiiPC is expected to start shipping to early bird backers in July. However, a pledge of $99 will still snag you one of the family-friendly computers, though you will probably have to wait until August or September to get your hands on it.

Here's the MiiPC Kickstarter video.

Source: MiiPC via Kickstarter

About the Author
Simon Crisp Simon is a journalist and photographer who has spent the last ten years working for national UK newspapers - but has never hacked a mobile phone - and specializes in writing about weird products and photography technology. When not writing for Gizmag, Simon is often found playing with LEGO and drinking far too much coffee. All articles by Simon Crisp

For $99, you can get a Ouya and install apps like this and it doubles as a real game machine.

Honestly, I don't see any advantage of this over getting a cheap used PC, installing Linux Mint on it, which is are more desktop oriented than Android. I guess you can't spy on your kids but I'm sure there is a Distro for that anyway. Why is the tech market so obsessed with Android as a desktop OS? It isn't, it is just really annoying to use as a desktop.

I'm guessing this is for really small children because what 12+ year old doesn't have a smart phone now-a-days? They'll just do all the stuff they don't want their parents to know about on it and leave this for their 6 year old sibling.

I mean look at the guys designing it in the video, it is grandparent aged people thinking this up. They probably don't even own a smart phone themselves. All those scary news stories of sexting and stuff prompted them to make this. I feel sorry for all the grandparents constantly worrying out there, I really do, my Parents worry about my kids and I can't convince them that I can handle them growing up with the Internet, smart phones, and facebook, but something like this isn't really going to help.


@ Exodus: Until recently, I had a Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu installed on it. There's a lot to like about the OS compared to Windows, but it's still more of an OS for techies who like to tweak to their hearts content then for the general population. There's still too much reliance on terminal, separate unbundled software that an app depends on to work and other arcanery to make it easy for the AVERAGE user unless they just stay with preinstalled apps.

Fans often say "Ubuntu is so flexible, but most people don't know how to install it properly!"

Well that just defines the whole problem with the Linux mindset. Who's responsibility is it to address that, if the OS is to grow to greater acceptance? Ubuntu, NOT non-techie end users.

Now Android is based on linux, but it does a FAR better job to shield AVERAGE users from reliance on terminal, separate software dependencies that many apps requires to work and other arcanery. That's what Ubuntu or any other distro has got to achieve to grow, but that's a tall order given the dependencies apps have with unbundled codes to run properly—it's open, but still far to messy for AVERAGE users—and ultimately it's they embrace of AVERAGE users that grows an OS, not diehard tweakers—sorry.


@ yrag

Err, should not have mentioned Linux in anyway, that isn't where I was going, I just mentioned it to keep the cost down. Used computers usually come with an OS chuck full of viruses and spyware and no re-install disk so starting fresh from SOMEWHERE is the best, and Linux is free.

Anyway, ANY OS would be better than Android for this, Android is not a desktop OS, that is all I meant by that comment on Linux. I know a few households that just install Linux on a home PC and let their kids go crazy. Like I said, this device is for younger kids anyway and young kids don't need a 'configured' PC, just a web browser that can access web based educational apps really. Linux is ideal for this because re-installing and updating is simple, just pop a live cd in and select that option on start up, no need to worry about install limits of windows. Kids above the age of 12, like I said, do 99% of everything on tablets and smartphones now and if they have to type something for school then if they have to a Linux desktop can do that. Also, parents might not be able to use an OS they haven't grown up on but believe me kids are much much more adaptable.


Parents keep an eye on their kids and Google keeps an eye on YOU! Pass...


OUYA and the MiiPC Android PC are good examples that while Android is still in a rough shape for these devices, it has a lot of potential way beyond smartphones and tablets. Perhaps if Google looked more into these markets, they could optimize it more for them.


I'm one of the Kickstarter backers of MiiPC for $115 (Memory Double Down Supporter). I can't wait to get my unit expected to be shipped by August 31st. Being someone who works in the Tech field (Sys Admin and Support) and new parent with six-month old, I can see the value and elegance in using Android OS as Desktop PC. Android, being based on Linux, is both scalable and secure. Android also has an easy-to-use interface and good software support through Google Play store.

Even though I'm mainly in the Apple ecosystem (IPhone, iPad, Mac's), I can see the potential in Android-based products like MiiPC and Ouya.

Daniel Luck
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