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.
If robots are going to become part of our everyday lives, they'll need to learn to work with everyday things. That means being able to read instruction manuals and figuring out how to use new machines. That's the plan of researchers at Cornell University, who have programmed a robot barista that can not only make a latte, but figure out how to use an unfamiliar espresso maker.
If you're in the market for a big family tablet, the nabi Big Tab more than delivers with your choice of a whopping 20-in or 24-in touchscreen, supported by a child-friendly selection of educational and entertaining games and apps. Read on, for Gizmag's review of Fuhu's nabi Big Tab.
There are many iOS apps that offer onscreen versions of musical instruments and, though a convenient way to practice chord positions or to quickly jot down a song idea, they can be a pretty poor substitute for the real thing. In 2013, Zivix launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to bring a backpack-friendly MIDI guitar designed for the mobile musician called the JamStik
to production. Now the company is back with an improved mini guitar that boasts better picking detection and processing speed, and uses Bluetooth LE instead of Wi-Fi to keep surfing channels open while playing.
It had to happen sooner or later; robots have replaced infants... at least, as subjects in psychological research being conducted by a team at the Indiana University (IU) Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. The robots are being used to study how infants learn and have revealed that posture and body position are important factors in early learning.
There's something pretty fulfilling about nailing those floating, colorful notes in Guitar Hero, a feeling that a company named Incident adapted to a more lifelike guitar
in 2012 to pretty good effect. The firm has rebranded itself as Opho and is now singing a slightly different tune, launching a LED-lit keyboard based on the same, super-addictive learning principle.
We've seen a number of clever learning tools aimed at future generations of roboticists and programmers recently. The latest educational plaything to join the likes of DynePods
, the Kibo
and the Wigl bot
is Hackaball. It's a computer in a ball that kids can program using an iPad, and then throw it around, bounce it off walls and kick it about in completely made up games.
In an old school gaming party to end all parties, Google's new deep Q-network (DQN) algorithm is likely to mop the floor with you at Breakout
or Space Invaders
, but maybe take a licking at Centipede
. Provided with only the same inputs as a human player and no previous real-world knowledge, DQN uses reinforcement learning to learn new games, and in some cases, develop new strategies. Its designers argue that this kind of general learning algorithm can crossover into discovery making in other fields.