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— Electronics

MaKey MaKey turns anything into a touchpad

As I discovered when reviewing the Minty Geek Electronics Lab a while back, experimenting with circuit building can be a great deal of fun. There was one particular project in this kit that made use of the human body to complete a circuit, with a simple lie detector test being the end result. With their Makey Makey open source hardware project, Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have taken such touch interaction to a much more entertaining and inventive degree. Everyday objects like bananas, coins, and even Play-Doh can be transformed into a computer keyboard key or mouse click to control onscreen gaming action, play software-based instruments or type out short messages. Read More
— Science

Japan team creates world's first "crab computer"

Wouldn't your latest generation tablet be way cooler if it ran on live crabs? Thanks to Yukio-Pegio Gunji and his team at Japan’s Kobe University, the era of crab computing is upon us ... well, sort of. The scientists have exploited the natural behavior of soldier crabs to design and build logic gates - the most basic components of an analogue computer. They may not be as compact as more conventional computers, but crab computers are certainly much more fun to watch. Read More
— Games

ROCCAT Power-Grid turns your smartphone into a PC gaming control board

German gaming peripheral specialist ROCCAT Studios has developed a new system which leverages smartphone technology to enhance the experience of PC gaming. As well as being able to use a smartphone to store and activate gameplay buttons, Power-Grid technology also allows users to wirelessly control PC settings from the mobile device, display vital system performance data and keep in touch with the real world - all while staying fully absorbed in the game. Read More
— Good Thinking

Childrens' thought processes could inspire better computers

Children are sometimes referred to as “sponges,” not because they live off our earnings, but because of their remarkable ability to learn things quickly. Psychologists believe this is because their brains are still wired for learning and exploration – essential qualities for building neural connections – whereas adult minds tend to focus on specific goals, at the expense of imagination and curiosity. Now, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley are studying the cognitive functions of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, in hopes of using their findings to make computers think more like humans. Read More
— Music Review

Review: The OPC musician's computer/amp from Orange Amps

The first OPC from Orange Amps was made available in August 2010 and we've been closely following its development ever since. The bundled musician-related software has remained pretty much the same since launch but the musician's computer was given a serious hardware upgrade towards the close of 2011, and it's the new Core i7 system which I've been getting to know over the past few weeks. I've also managed to discuss some of the finer details with the driving force behind the OPC, and its lead developer, Charlie Cooper. Read More
— Science

Emotion-detecting digital tutor boosts students' grades

As proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “flow” is an ideal psychological state in which we are engaged enough by a task not to find it boring, and yet not so challenged by it that we get discouraged. When learning new subjects, however, students often end up falling at one end or the other of that scale. Now, a new computerized tutoring system has been developed to keep students in the “flow” zone. It does so by monitoring their emotional state, then adjusting its teaching method to steer them away from boredom or frustration. Read More
— Computers

CompuLab announces powerful new fanless Intense PC

Israel's CompuLab has announced a Q2 release for its most powerful miniature fanless PC to date. Designed for customization and extensibility, and based around Intel's second generation Core i processors, the Intense PC features a 6Gbps SATA 3 connection for internal 2.5-inch format hard drive or SSD storage, an HDMI 1.4 port with support for up to 1920 x 1200 screen resolution, and wireless LAN with two antennas. There are more physical connectivity ports than you can shake a stick at, and the unit only draws 8W of power when idle. Read More