If you haven’t seen an of the individual Vine videos before, this is a compilation of the hero Gotham neither wants nor deserves harassing his wife and kids in a Batman mask. His kids actually seem to enjoy it, but his wife — she’s doesn’t seem that into it. Also, that Batmobile looks an awful lot like a minivan. “I had to fire Lucius to pay for diapers and babysitters,” I imagine BatDad saying over a glass of bourbon after the kids have gone to bed.
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Understanding electronics is tricky. Electricity is invisible, the components are cryptic, and the concepts are hard to grasp. That’s where LightUp comes in. This is an AR-based system for teaching electronics by allowing kids to build little projects and “see” what the components are doing using augmented reality.
The projects snap together with magnets and you can send juice through the circuit to light up LEDs and turn on buzzers. However, when you take a picture of the circuit with your phone, LightUp adds animated lines to show you what the electricity is doing. While it’s not particularly useful for simple circuits – there’s not much going on – it’s particularly cool in that it tells you when your diodes are aligned wrong or your transistors aren’t working.
For $ 99 you can get a mini kit that includes an Arduino micro-controller as well as variable resistors, light sensors, and LEDs. A $ 39 kit offers considerably fewer parts but can be used to make a “morse code buzzer, night light, dimmer switch, [or] lunch box alarm.” I personally, could use the lunch box alarm to keep the kids out of my jellybean container.
LightUp is already fully funded. The project has a few competitors, including LittleBits but the AR capabilities really sell this kit. Rather than focusing on blind experimentation, LightUp offers just a bit more in terms of STEM education.
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Editor’s note: Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research and blogs at Techspressive. Each column will look at crowdfunded products that have either met or missed their funding goals. Follow him on Twitter @rossrubin.
‘Tis the season when our thoughts often turn to the wee ones in our lives, and that has certainly been on the minds of some crowdfunding project owners and backers.
Backed: ATOMS Express Toys. Clearly aimed at the little (or not so little) maker in the house, the ATOMS line consists of three kinds of components: Blue bricks sense things; red bricks connect things; and green bricks do things. Yes, you can see the faint outlines of the developer mindset already. The bricks are all linked together with standard audio cables. Taking a cue from the construction masters at LEGO, ATOMS has packaged its bricks into different sets, one for building monsters, another for activating things via a “magic wand,” and a third for iOS control using a Bluetooth brick. One gets the feeling, though, that the young ones’ favorite component will wind up being the exploding brick. Just a hunch.
ATOMS isn’t the first kid-friendly DIY e-bricks set out there. Littlebits uses magnets to link together components, but ATOMS seems to offer more functionality without any more complexity. With about 10 days left to go in the campaign, ATOMS has cleared its $ 100,000 goal by more than a third. The sets run from about $ 50 to $ 80 with the lot going for an early-adopter price of $ 190 with retail expected at $ 250 next June.
Backed: Sqord. The first IndieGoGo project to be profiled on Backed or Whacked, Sqord combines children’s activities with one of crowdfunding’s favorite product categories: wristwear. Essentially, a 3D accelerator-based activity monitor for kids, the product is durable and cheap. Sqord’s video shows off whacking the product with a hammer, something you wouldn’t want to do to a Nike FuelBand or an original Striiv monitor. Unlike those products, the Sqord has no display and can relay its latest results up to the cloud by tapping the monitor against a base station using NFC.
Reward levels include two Sqord monitors and the base station for $ 50, which the company expects to deliver in May. With about two weeks left to go in the campaign, Sqord has raised less than $ 20,000 of its $ 85,000 goal. But because they’ve used IndieGoGo’s option for a flexible funding campaign, it gets to keep all contributions.
Backed: iBuKu Pets. At first glance, the iBuKu Pets look a bit like a number of other rubbery protective shells for smartphones and tablets like the Speck iGuy for iPad (with perhaps a bit more cushion). Those taking a second glance will discover that co-creator Royce Channey has gone beyond that, integrating cable storage and a backup battery into the iBuKu; the latter is a particularly handy feature if it is to encase iPhone hand-me-downs. And those taking a third look will find that the team has even designed an iBuKu Pets app that features a quartet of characters, including the Furby-faced Alvie.
One thing’s for sure: The gang over at Arbor Cube runs a tight ship. The campaign, which ended on December 15th, met its $ 25,000 goal with only $ 585 to spare and actually shipped the $ 35 appcessory to backers three days later, hinting that this was one of those campaigns where the fundraising was more of a formality than a necessity.
Backed: Genetipetz The mooraffe, zebugraphant and snurtlegator sound like the work of a collaboration between Dr. Seuss and Dr. Moreau. Actually, they are under the supervision of the animated Dr. Genetipetz. Charlotte, N.C.-based Jackson and Cavan Meade are the entrepreneurial young stars of the enthusiastic pitch video for Genetipetz, animal body part “plushups” that have a tenuous tie to genetics. The early bird-creatures who got a jump on the toys grabbed the first batch of 35 at $ 50, but this was another campaign that raced to the wire like a zepheetah, just poking past its $ 20,000 funding goal. The toys are slated to be delivered in February, which should get them out the door in time to avoid scrutiny from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Stuffed Animals.
Whacked: Maze-O “Pretty much everyone loves mazes,” asserts Dan Friedman, half of the Lakeville, Minn., spousal pair behind Maze-O. Maze-O is a set of 2.5-inch squares that easily fit together to allow kids to create mazes wide enough to accommodate a Matchbox car or Hexbug. Maze-O was inspired by the length of time it took for Master Friedman to create mazes using tools such as wood blocks combined with the resulting fragility of such mazes. Most parents would probably outsource the work to China, but not Dan, who spares us the special effects in noting, “We knew there had to be a better way and — light bulb — Maze-O was born.”
A starter 36-piece set of Google/Windows/eBay-themed red, yellow, blue and green Maze-O pieces was made available for $ 30. Alas, the Friedmans will need to rely on their 3D printer for printing such pieces for a bit longer. While just over 100 backers were willing to enter Kickstarter’s labyrinthine funding process, the 30-day campaign lost its way in seeking the cheese of its $ 50,000 funding goal.
TinyTap announces TinyTap, Moments Into Games 1.0.4 for iPad. With just a few photos, TinyTap lets users create personalized educational games, turning learning into fun. This update to their application launches a new Artist tool to develop coordination and creativity. This drawing tool is a simple way for children to create unique drawings which can then be incorporated in a TinyTap game. With the app, parents and teachers can teach children the alphabet, numbers or simply tell great stories. Video Rating: 0 / 5Related Posts:
Whether you have streaming-savvy children, or are just a big kid yourself, Hulu has added a new section to its bulging catalogue specifically for you. Hulu Kids puts all the ad-free shows available to Plus subscribers in one place, and splits them into categories for filtering, say, only dinosaur-related programs. The section has its own website, or can now be accessed through the obvious option in the Browse menu. PS3 owners will be happy to know the Hulu Plus app has been updated, too, bringing back the Blu-Ray remote functionality that was, for some wacky reason, removed in the last update. And, what better way is there to relax after a humiliating public defeat than dropping the controller, and taking in a calming dose of SpongeBob?
Message from Me isn’t the only way Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Labis helping kids communicate. The lab’s Hear Me team has come up with Can Pals, a clever twist on the tin can phone that helps students share their stories with the world. Kids record their non-fictional tales on computers or via mics brought in by the Hear Me team, who will edit and upload them to the site and transfer them onto the electronic cans. Afterwards, kids can draw a picture or add some text to a label, which is adhered to the outside.
The Hear Me team then brings them to another school, where the stories are shared with other students, who can pull off the labels and respond to the speakers. The group has also designed CanEX displays that are already at some businesses around town, letting customers catch a glimpse into the lives of local children. CREATE calls it an “empowerment tool for advocacy” — we can’t help but refer to it as This American Life or The Moth for kids. Either way, pretty cool.
Filed under: Cellphones
Foxconn admitted this week to hiring underage interns at its Yantai plant in China. Many assumed the Yantai plant has some association to the production of Apple products, but in reality Nintendo’s Wii U gaming console is undergoing testing there.
As many as 56 kids were working at the plant, some as young as 14; Chinese law maintains that workers must be at least 16. It’s ironic, in a really sad way.
To that point, Nintendo has issued a statement on the matter:
Nintendo is in communication with Foxconn and is investigating the matter. We take our responsibilities as a global company very seriously and are committed to an ethical policy on sourcing, manufacture and labor. In order to ensure the continued fulfillment of our social responsibility throughout our supply chain, we established the Nintendo CSR Procurement Guidelines in July 2008. We require that all production partners, including Foxconn, comply with these Guidelines, which are based on relevant laws, international standards and guidelines. If we were to find that any of our production partners did not meet our guidelines, we would require them to modify their practices according to Nintendo’s policy. For more information about Nintendo’s Corporate Social Responsibility report, please visit http://www.nintendo.co.jp/csr/en/index.html.
Foxconn has taken measures to rectify the situation, sending the underage interns home and promising to fire anyone responsible for the hire of interns under 16.
Foxconn has been under some serious scrutiny lately, constantly under the watchful eye of human activists groups after a series of suicides in the past few years and multiple factory fires. In fact, Foxconn inadvertently came up in the second presidential debate when CNN’s Candy Crowley asked the candidates why iPhones, iPads, and Macs can’t be manufactured in the U.S.
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Netflix’s Just for Kids portal may already be a parent’s ticket to saving money on endless Dora the Explorer DVDs without keeping a constant watch on the screen, but it has so far been left to consoles and the web. That’s not much help to movie-loving grownups who’d sometimes like to free the PC or TV for their own streaming sessions — so it’s likely a relief to many that the Just for Kids interface is now available on iPads. Like on bigger screens, the mobile app provides a safe zone for the under-12 set that organizes videos into sections that junior viewers will more likely appreciate, such as sing-alongs and talking animals. For now, Android tablet owners and those holding on to first-generation iPads will be left out. It still shouldn’t be too long before more adults can be sure their mobile-savvy kids are watching Curious George instead of Chasing Amy.