Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Learning

Gizmag reviews Riffstation jam software for guitar

Not too long after its launch in 2005, you'd be hard-pushed to visit any friends without being challenged to a round or two of Guitar Hero. Interest in learning to play a real guitar also blossomed, but many found the transition from guitar-shaped controller to actual instrument a difficult one, and perfectly good axes have been gathering dust ever since. Irish company Sonic Ladder has now released some interesting software called Riffstation that gives you the opportunity to break out your much-neglected guitar and play along with your favorite bands to onscreen prompts. Gizmag takes a look at what this software has to offer.  Read More

The LeapFrog LeapReader id designed to help children learn how to read and write

LeapFrog has revealed its latest product aimed at improving the literacy of youngsters, the LeapReader. The pen-like device follows on from the Tag Reading System and works with a library of more than 150 reading, activity and audio-books, to teach children not only how to recognize and say letters or words, but also how to write them.  Read More

Italian researchers have developed a robot that can be taught to build an IKEA table (Phot...

Teaching a robot how to deal with real-world problems is a challenging task. There has been much progress in building robots that can precisely repeat individual tasks with a level of speed and accuracy impossible for human craftspeople. But there are many more tasks that could be done if robots could be supplied with even a limited amount of judgement. A robotics group led by Professor Sylvain Calinon at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) is making progress in solving this problem.  Read More

The JamStik is a compact digital guitar

Learning to play guitar is tough. It takes time, dedication and practice. Lots of practice. Fortunately, technology is taking the edge off a little and offering more hope of success to those who might otherwise take an early bath out of frustration. Online teaching services like iPerform3D provide virtual lessons whenever you need them, hardware additions such as the Maestro can help guide students to the correct finger positions, and the gTar marries the power of your iPhone with buttons and strings on a full-sized guitar. The JamStik from Zivix brings many of these aspects (and more) together in a compact portable practice/learning guitar made for the mobile generation.  Read More

MidiWing is a digital music system developed to give everyone the chance to create music, ...

Inspired by the many people he encountered at his mother's daycare center for severely disabled children when he was a youngster himself, multi-instrumentalist Dan Daily began working on a digital music system that anyone can play, regardless of ability or physical capability. Several prototypes later, along with some vital technical input from Lockhead Martin subsidiary Sandia National Laboratories, and MidiWing 1 is ready for release.  Read More

The InnoTab 2 Baby features a baby-friendly design and comes pre-loaded with baby-centric ...

We've seen plenty of tablet computers designed for children; but that's normally defined as three-years-old and above. And as any parent will tell you, kids want to get their sticky little fingers all over your touchscreen well before their third birthday. VTech seems to agree and is launching a tablet aimed squarely at babies, the InnoTab 2 Baby.  Read More

The Lernstift digital pen

Use digital technology long enough and you start to become dependent upon it for such mundane tasks as spell checking. That means when you pick up a garden variety ballpoint pen you’re back in dictionary and “I before E except after C” territory. Like LiveScribe, the creators of the Lernstift digital pen hope to bring handwriting into the 21st century by having the pen vibrate to indicate when the writer makes spelling and grammatical errors or exhibits poor penmanship.  Read More

GuitarBots is an online guitar learning game from Ovelin that allows players to use a real...

One of my most painful (but at the same time wickedly amusing) memories relating to the Guitar Hero and Rock Band gaming boom a few years ago was when a high-scoring king of the button/paddle guitar controller tried to show me how easy it was to play a real guitar. He soon learned that playing a real instrument can be very tough at the beginning, so much so that many would-be axe gods give up before the calluses have even had a chance to form. GuitarBots from Ovelin is a new online learning system that combines challenge and reward computer-based gaming and a real instrument to take string pickers from the tentative first steps right through to more advanced soloing and rhythm play ... and it looks like a whole lot of fun, too.  Read More

Students using the SynergyNet project's NumberNet desks

Mathematics has always been one of those subjects that poses a lot of difficulties for some young students. In the 3-year SynergyNet project conducted by Britain’s Durham University, however, it was found that something might help – multi-user multi-touch networked desks.  Read More

Delft University's planar running robot Phides can reach speeds of 2.2 mph with a flight p...

Leo and Phides – two planar biped robots built at the Delft University of Technology – are walking and running, respectively. Leo improved its walking gait through reinforcement learning, which shapes behavior by rewarding success and punishing failure. Phides, the running robot, has achieved an impressive flight phase (the period in a running stride in which both feet are off the ground). Watch the robots in action after the break.  Read More

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