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Learning

Children

Fisher-Price aims to get your kids coding with cute Code-a-Pillar

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.Read More

Computers

DeepBeat uses deep learning to help you write rap

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.Read More

Robotics

"Autobiographical memory" lets robots act as knowledge go-betweens for ISS crews

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.Read More

Music

Follow the light: One piano learning system coming to the US

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.Read More

Electronics

It's touch and Go for Makey Makey

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.Read More

Music

Study suggests adults can be trained to develop "perfect pitch"

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.Read More

Electronics Review

Review: Cubit programmable "make anything" electronic platform

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.Read More

Robotics

Cornell's robot barista learns as it brews

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.Read More

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