Learning to play guitar is hard. Though there's no effective replacement for many of hours of repetitive practice, today's six-string students do have numerous teaching aids to help make the learning curve a little less steep. PocketStrings, for example, caters for chord shaping on the go, Fretlight illuminates fretting finger positions, games like Rocksmith make learning more fun and countless mobile apps can turn the ubiquitous smartphone into a powerful teaching tool. But there are times when simply marking finger positions on a fretboard might make chords and scales easier to remember. Naturally, you don't want to be taking a Sharpie to your axe of choice, which is where Fret Friend may come in handy.
Lego Education has updated its aging WeDo robotic learning system with WeDo 2.0. Geared toward schools or parents looking to add some structured learning to playtime, it comes in kit form and is an aid to spark young students' interest in science, computing, engineering and technology subjects.
Like the Dash and Dot from our round-up of last year's best tech toys for kids, the upcoming Code-a-Pillar has been designed to teach kids how to code in an entertaining and engaging way. Fisher-Price's effort sees a wheeled caterpillar head sporting a constant smile and blinking eyes that can be connected via USB to a number of segments. The order in which the segments are connected determines the actions of the completed bot.
So, you've got the stage presence and you've got the moves, the only thing you need to become the next great rapper is, uh … stuff to rap about. Well, researchers from Finland's Aalto University, HIIT (Helsinki Institute for Information Technology) and the University of Helsinki may be able to help. Their DeepBeat machine learning algorithm can help shmucks like us create rap lyrics, with a little help from the pros.
Anyone who's had to take on job responsibilities from someone who left the company months ago will appreciate this robotic system designed with the International Space Station (ISS) in mind. With the design challenge of retaining important experiential information between rotating crews of astronauts, French researchers used the popular Nao robot to form an "autobiographical memory" of human interactions and pass on the know-how to new crew members.
If you want to know what time it is, you’ll have to do a little work with this clock. Albert (named after Albert Einstein) is a wall clock for children that breaks down the current time in math problems.
These days, there seems to be a smartphone or tablet app for just about everything you might want to do, be it detecting cosmic rays, getting language help or learning to play an instrument. The One piano learning system also has an iOS/Android app at its heart, but students learn to play on a real piano with the help of synced LED lights. Already a best seller in China, the One Music Group is looking for similar success in the American marketplace and has opened an office in San Francisco to bring its One piano and learning app to Stateside students.
At about the size of a credit card, the original Makey Makey (now called the Classic) isn't exactly a behemoth, but it's not really something you could wear around your neck or dangle from your ear either. Aiming for portability, the boffins at JoyLabz have redesigned the board, stripping it down to its bare essentials, then adding a magnet (so tinkerers can stick it a fridge door between uses) and some LEDs (for colorful visual feedback), and wrapped it in protective plastic bumpers. The Makey Makey Go is now about the size of a USB thumb drive and, like the original, can be used to turn everyday objects into touch-enabled "buttons" – everything from bananas to someone's ear to jello to a potted plant. So long as it's able to conduct even the tiniest amount of electricity, it's fair game for some Makey Makey magic.
Music gets so much easier when you instinctively know all the notes. But being able to reliably identify or reproduce a pitch without error is rare. If you're not born with perfect pitch, prior studies suggest, your only hope of getting it is to receive musical training at a critical period in your childhood. New research at the University of Chicago suggests otherwise, however. Perfect pitch might be attainable well into adulthood.
If you’re into electronics as
a hobbyist, technician, or professional engineer, you know that you can spend
many hours designing circuits, sourcing components, and breadboarding or
soldering a project all together before you find out if your creation actually works. Wouldn’t
it make life simpler if you could just start with a basic, multi-function
controller and a few plug and play peripherals to get something – anything – up
and running straight away and then which you could tweak and add to as you go?
The makers of a new electronic design tool thought that this would be a good
idea too and have created Cubit, a make anything platform that allows drag and
drop software control over snap together hardware. Join Gizmag as we try a few builds to test out it out.