There's no shortage of robot-based toys out there which are claimed to be both fun, and teach your budding young roboticist the basics of programming. Following in the digital footsteps of Play-i, Kibo and Hackaball, is Vortex, a friendly Arduino-based bot that can connect to iOS and Android devices, play games, and be programmed by children as young as six-years-old.
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.
Though you can
work with your kids on all sorts of crazy electronics projects by adding numerous shields, break-out boards and attachments to existing development platforms or going wild with Lego Technic building blocks, such solutions just weren't cute enough for Kevin King and his kids Halley and Parker. Their digital pet is called Ringo and thanks to a successful crowdfunding effort, the teeny Arduino-based robotics and programming learning tool could be swarming toward backers in the coming months.
By today's standards, early 1980s home computing was a very BASIC affair (excuse the pun). But for those who lived through it, it was an enlightening period of simple wonder and creative experimentation. In the UK, the odds are pretty good that students of code performed their programming magic using a big beige box connected to a chunky monitor known as the BBC Microcomputer. Many of those early digital tinkerers went on to careers in computing and it's this pioneering spirit that the BBC is hoping to recapture with the launch of a new education initiative named Make it Digital. At its center is a new micro computing platform called, for the moment, the Micro Bit.
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.
Meccano is one of those toys with a very strong nostalgia element, involving memories of hours spent bolting together a toy wheelbarrow or a coffee table-size Forth Bridge. But 21st century kids relate more to smartphones than traveling cranes, so Meccano has come up with its Meccanoid G15 KS – a kit robot that can be programmed using motion capture.
Building and playing with robots can be a whole lot of fun for kids of all ages, but making the robot do your bidding by creating lines and lines of code can be a bit, well, dull. Wigl takes a different approach. Rather than generate commands using a smartphone or computer, young programmers just need to pick up an instrument and hit the right note. The little bot then responds with bustin' moves, flashing lights or special dances.
In the United States, more and more television programming has become available for streaming online thanks to names like Hulu, Amazon and many of the TV networks themselves, but being able to watch live television and events like sports and live news online has remained elusive for cord cutters. Dish took a big move towards changing that here at CES 2015
, announcing the launch of Sling TV to deliver live channels to connected devices like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Xbox and others.
You may have heard the expression, "Work smarter, not harder." When applied to humans, it means (partially) that we should do our best work on the tasks that are the most important, instead of wasting time and effort by going all out on every task. Well, that principle is now also being applied to computers. Using MIT's new Chisel system, computers are saving power by delegating less-critical tasks to less-dependable lower-energy hardware. This means mistakes may be made on those tasks, but that's OK.