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Learning

Good Thinking

Global Learning XPrize offers $15 million to tackle illiteracy in the developing world

Having tasked technologists with challenges as diverse as Ted Talkin' artificial intelligence and bringing Star Trek's iconic tricorder to life, XPrize has now turned its attention to an equally ambitious task. Millions of children around the globe don't have basic literacy skills, presenting a problem that cannot be solved without some big picture thinking. Launching today, the Global Learning XPrize offers US$15 million in prize money for the development of software that teaches children these vital skills in the space of 18 months, without the presence of a teacher. Read More

Robotics

JIBO family robot wants to join the household

Looking like a cross between Pixar’s Luxo Jr lamp and Apple’s iMac G4, Jibo is an interactive electronic buddy that is touted as the "world’s first family robot." Designed to engage with people in a human-like way, Jibo takes on various roles around the house including mail deliverer, environment controller, storyteller, telepresence device, event reminder, and cameraman.Read More

Robotics

Crowdsourcing could help robots learn new tasks faster

If robots are going to work alongside humans, the machines are going to need to swallow their pride and learn to ask for help. At least, that’s the thinking of computer scientists at the University of Washington (UW), who are working on ways for robots to crowdsource their problems when learning new tasks. If successful, this approach points the way toward future robots that are capable of asking for assistance to speed up their learning when it comes to figuring out how to carry out household tasks.Read More

SkaterTrainer aims to ease the process of learning skateboard tricks

If you've ever tried learning to skateboard, you've probably tried putting the board in grass or on some other surface on which it won't move in order to practice new tricks. After all, learning a new trick on a board that constantly wants to roll away from you is way harder. A new product called SkateTrainer aims to make that easier by preventing the wheels of the board from spinning, thus allowing stationary practice on any surface.Read More

Computers

New computer program wants to teach itself everything about any subject

Word-picture association is one of the basic mechanisms of human memory. As children, it helps us to learn language by verbalizing what we see, as adults it is an invaluable aid to visualizing broader concepts or perhaps helping those with an LBLD (Language-Based Learning Disability). Now researchers from the University of Washington and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence have created the first fully automated computer program named LEVAN that teaches itself everything there is to know about a visual concept by associating words with images.Read More

Bicycles

Jyrobike self-balances to keep kids on the straight and narrow

Conventional training wheels might be useful in preventing cuts, breaks and bruises, but they can also lead to bad habits and lengthen the process of learning to ride a bike on your own. The team behind the Jyrobike are looking to give budding cyclists a quicker path to two-wheeled success, with a self-balancing bike that uses a gyroscope to keep kids on the straight and narrow. Read More

Music

Keyboard overlay aims to take the pain out of learning to play guitar

Like many would-be six-string slingers, Don Bacon of Denver, Colorado, found getting started tougher than it looked. The discomfort experienced when pushing soft finger ends onto hard metal strings can certainly be off-putting, but there's also the issue of chunky digits accidentally muting nearby strings, or causing them to buzz, when trying to form chord patterns or sound individual strings. Bacon designed a soft-touch overlay called the Finger Friendly Guitar Company Keyboard – let's call it the FFK – to help make learning to play as painless and as easy as possible, with the added bonus of sounding good while you're doing it.Read More

Children

VTech brings teacher-endorsed Android games to its InnoTab Max tablet for kids

VTech has revealed its upcoming lineup of tablet computers for children, including an Android-powered top-of-the-range model. The InnoTab Max features a 7-in touchscreen, built-in Wi-Fi, and the Android 4.2 operating system. In addition to VTech's own apps and learning software, it will also boast access to a selection of more than 200 educator-endorsed Android learning games.Read More

Music

RoboTar ushers in the era of Robotic Rock, maybe

Of all the robots spotted at last month's Bay Area Maker Faire, the non-descript RoboTar definitely had the most distinctive groove. RoboTar is a robotic guitar hand that attaches to the neck of your instrument and takes care of that tricky fret work allowing for a new way to learn, play one-handed or even encourage experimentation for more experienced players. Read More

Children

Kibo robot kit aims to teach young kids programming skills

KinderLab Robotics has launched a new robot building and programming platform called Kibo that's designed for youngsters from 4 years and up. After customizing and personalizing a two-wheeled base unit, the kids can tell the robot what they want it to do by grabbing some colorful wooden blocks, putting them in order according to a specific function and scanning their bar codes into the base in sequence. Pressing a button will then start the program running and the robot creation springs to life.Read More

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