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The Kano computer kit makes learning programming concepts painless (Photo: Kano)

Billed as "the computer anyone can make," the US$99 Kano kit supplies a Raspberry Pi computer board with the various accouterments (save for a display) required to make it into a complete computer. The Kano programming language uses graphic code blocks to implement a simple but powerful language reminiscent of BASIC.  Read More

Now this is how it's done – Cornell's Baxter robot, handling a knife safely

If you were buying a kitchen knife in a supermarket, you wouldn't expect the cashier to swing it dangerously close to you as they were ringing it up. If that cashier were a robot, though, it wouldn't know any better – unless it had been taught otherwise. That's just what engineers at Cornell University have done, using a unique new technique.  Read More

Play-i's robots teach kids the basics of programming while they have fun

With just a few taps on a tablet screen, children as young as 5 are programming a pair of robots called Bo and Yana using a simple GUI. Looking a bit like the cute one-eyed monsters from a Pixar film, the bots are the flagship products of a start-up called Play-i, founded by a team with experience at Amazon and Apple. In just two days, the company has nearly reached its crowdfunding goal of US$250,000, with plans to send out the first batch in the northern summer of 2014.  Read More

qCraft brings quantum mechanics to Minecraft

“Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it,” Niels Bohr famously wrote. However, Minecraft players can now be slightly closer to parsing the perplexities of quantum theory, thanks to qCraft, a collaboration between Google and Dr. Spyridon Michalakis, a scholar of quantum mechanics. What does this new mod bring to the game? Only quantum teleportation, observer dependencies, and Schrödinger’s Cat, for starters.  Read More

ixi-play is capable of face, color and voice recognition

Remember the mechanical owl from the original version of Clash of the Titans? Well, even if you don't, here's your chance to own something kind of like it. It's called ixi-play, and it's an interactive robotic owl that's designed to both entertain and educate your children.  Read More

littleBits electronic building blocks lets kids and adults create simple circuits or inven...

Ayah Bdeir is on a mission to bring DIY electronics to a wider audience with a collection of building blocks called littleBits. Color-coded into different categories, these circuit board modules can be snapped together with magnets and combined with everyday objects to make anything from a glow-in-the-dark puppets to a bubble blowing flutes to ... whatever your imagination can conjure, and all without any specialist knowledge of electronics or design.  Read More

Georgia Tech to offer MS in Computer Science via MOOC (Photo: Mathieu Plourde)

The Georgia Institute of Technology, in partnership with Udacity and AT&T, is preparing to offer an accredited online master of science (M.S.) degree in Computer Science. The instruction will be via Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC), which will be open to anyone at no charge, but will also be available as for-credit courses leading to an Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMS CS). The total cost of instruction fees and tuition for those taking the M.S. route is expected to be less than US$7,000.  Read More

Dino Pet is a clear plastic dinosaur filled with bioluminescent algae that glow in the dar...

Yonder Biology, a company typically known for making colorful prints based on a person's DNA, is aiming to teach children about biology with its latest mixture of art and science. The company's new Dino Pet is a clear plastic dinosaur filled with bioluminescent algae that glow in the dark, so it can act as night light as well as a fun learning tool.  Read More

MIT neuroscientists identified the cells (highlighted in red) where memory traces are stor...

An ongoing collaboration between the Japanese Riken Brain Science Institute and MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory has resulted in the discovery of how to plant specific false memories into the brains of mice. The breakthrough significantly extends our understanding of memory and expands the experimental reach of the new field of optogenetics.  Read More

A human artist's sketch (left), and the computer's attempt at a drawing of the same face d...

Last year, we heard about an industrial robot that was able to create pencil sketches of human subjects. In that case, it utilized algorithms that identified the boundaries between areas of high and low contrast on each subject’s face. Now, however, scientists at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, have taken things a bit further. They’ve created a computer tool that not only produces digital sketches, but it also copies the style of specific human artists as it does so.  Read More

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