One interesting element of Google I/O this year were the sensors laid out everywhere around Moscone tracking environmental data throughout the event. Those types of sensors are now all around us, including in our phones and in various smart home devices, and now a new Kickstarter project from ManyLabs wants to help kids get familiar with them very early on.
The project is called Sensors for Students, and it wants to build a sensor collection kit that includes a plate for an open-source Arduino board and Grove shield combo, along with one of a variety of parts for a number of different types of sensors, including accelerometers, electromagnetic field detectors, a color sensor, a plant watering kit (similar to one component of the Bitponics automated hydroponic garden), and many more.
The team behind ManyLabs consists of Peter Sand and Elliot Dicus, who formed the nonprofit with the ultimate intent of spreading low-cost hands-on tools for teaching science and math to the classroom. Sand has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT, and has focused his work and research on computer vision, robotics and education.
Sand and Dicus wanted to make it possible to get kids learning data literacy and experimenting with open source hardware early on in life. Their goals sound similar to those of Adafruit, the NY-based hardware company that’s also trying to make people more comfortable with concepts around electrical engineering and DIY maker culture, beginning early on in life.
ManyLabs isn’t just supplying hardware, though, it’s also very clearly marketing a curriculum, with lessons and content being offered alongside each type of kit available to backers, along with online resources that will be made available on a yearly subscription basis. There’s no soldering required in the kits that are on offer, so these are suitable for a range of ages and skill levels, and ManyLabs hopes to put them in the hands of backers as soon as August this year, with kits beginning at $ 40. The most expensive individual kit is $ 75, and while ManyLabs requires you to supply your own Arduino, it’s still very affordable, a key value add for educational markets.
Canonical’s Ubuntu handsets are expected to be upon us very, very soon, and given that some say a phone is only as good as its apps, the firm wants to make sure the experience is indeed a great one right out of the box. To help accomplish that, Canonical has announced the CoreApps project, setting its sights on about a dozen default applications which should give Ubuntu devices ample functionality from day one; this, of course, includes essential ones such as a calendar, calculator, clock / alarm, weather and email client. That’s not it, however, since the project also lists plans for social networking apps like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as an account and file manager, document viewer, RSS reader and even a terminal — the latter, naturally, should make Android rooters feel right at home. Canonical is seeking help from the community to make the CoreApps project a reality, so those devs interested in helping may want to click the source link below to learn all the nitty-gritty.
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- Project|Tech Meets Blog
Question by Words Of Wisdom: I need an idea about a microcontroller project? Something in the robotics domain. Simple but not too popular. I saw that the internet is full of line-follower robot and maze-solving robots. So I really don’t want the same very common project. So, any suggestions?
Answer by doug_donaghueHow about a robot that ‘searches’ for small, black pebbles on a white floor. When it ‘finds’ one, it picks it up and drops it into a container. A ‘house-cleaning’ robot.
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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.
Crowdfunding campaigns employ all kinds of logical and emotional appeals to get you to dig into your wallet. But in just the past few months, there’s been a rush of different products seeking to replace yours. Why Kickstarter — which screens all projects — saw fit to greenlight 10 variations on a theme in so short a time is something only its curators can say.
Not only have most of them sought to minimize the traditional pocket stuffer with something far thinner and lighter, but most won the backing of the crowd, as well. However, as many of them have been smaller-scale projects, and as wallets tend to be popular gifts, a few have already begun shipping, so that they can spend a little while sitting in a stocking before moving on to a pocket.
Backed: SlideR. Like many of the wallets that have been funded through Kickstarter in the past few months, the slider is a simple fabric-and-elastic affair that leaves parts of your plastic exposed. Its distinguishing namesake feature is the ability to slide the elastic band along the width of the sleeve in order to hold your cards tight or facilitate removal — a simple enough concept to attract nearly double the $ 8,500 goal and start shipping.
Backed: Obtainium Wallet. The Obtainium wallet may be made of aluminum and not unobtainium, but its space-age look conceals a bi-fold design that contains gripping compartments to protect its contents from mud, moving cars and other indignities. Slim compared to conventional wallets but bulky compared to its Kickstarter contemporaries, the tight-jeans-compatible sturdy cache has more than doubled its $ 25,000 goal with about 20 days left in the campaign.
Backed: Inevitable Wallets. Tyvek has long been a material used in thin wallets and the material of choice for wallet designers Johnny and Jill Burt and Caden, their four-year-old son and star of both their Kickstarter video and wall. Reliving the spirit of so many slugfests in their hometown of Las Vegas, the Burts take on both leather wallets and ultra minimalist affairs that they say sacrifice functionality for size. It’s on, and moving forward for the Amaranth clutch wallets and Liberty Series men’s bifolds thanks to the campaign eking past its lightweight, yet durable, $ 3,000 funding goal.
Whacked: The Flip n’ Grip Wallet. The Flip n’ Grip’s unusual trademarked name is a good fit for its unusual appearance and card presentation system. The six-card holder plus optional money clip can store up to six cards that pop up in a stepped presentation when the lever on the side of the device is pressed. There’s also a hook that you or pickpockets can use to easily remove your wallet from your pocket and which, we may infer from the video, makes for endless gunslinger-style twirling fun. Because if there’s one thing you don’t care about having fly off your hand to locations unknown, it’s your wallet. Fortunately, the aluminum and stainless steel construction should protect it if it’s run over. The Flip n’ Grip attracted more than $ 45,000 in funding, a multiple of many other backed wallets, but only about half of the $ 100,000 sought in the campaign. That’s life in the badlands, fundslingers.
Backed: Vi Card Holder/Wallet. An early Product Design entrant from the UK, the Vi (pronounced like the remade mini-series about deceptively friendly aliens and not like the legendary UNIX text editor) and represents “five intelligent design solutions” — light, compact, elegant, functional and simple. The video is otherwise short on marketing points, letting the product, sort of a mobile version of a desktop business card holder, speak for itself. That it did, as backers provided double the £5,000 funding goal.
Backed: TGT Wallet. It’s tempting to knock the TGT (pronounced “tight”) wallet for its video’s gratuitous shots of, ahem, back pockets. However, its scraggly inventor balances out the denim closeups with an engaging telling of the story of how the TGT came to be from its humble roots as a thick red rubber band holding together another kind of green: a broccoli stalk. Certainly one of the most fashion-forward of the lot, it ventures beyond the requisite credit cards and oft-afterthought cash to feature a pocket that can accommodate a USB flash drive or wrap around an iPhone. It looks as though getting cards and cash expeditiously out of the TGT might be somewhat HRD, but backers didn’t seem to agree, contributing almost $ 300,000 more than the original $ 20,000 funding goal.
Backed: Capsule Minimalist Wallet. In his Kickstarter video, Robert Sha has a frank discussion with you about what he sees as the chief shortcoming of many thin wallets, their giving short shrift to the good old case. To remedy this, the Capsule Minimlalist wallet includes a more generous CashStrap™ that can accommodate a single folded bill or a stack of them, whereas many other minimalist wallets require you to double-fold, which of course adds thickness. The result is a minimalist wallet that looks more traditional but offers good functionality. Over 2,400 backers offered $ 100,000 more than its original $ 16,500 goal.
Backed: HuMn Mini Wallet. HuMn is a returning Kickstarter alum as the original HuMn wallet, funded to almost $ 300,000 back in February and recently featured on Fab.com. The original and its smaller successor are of the spreading elastic band genus of minimalist wallets. What sets it apart is the ability to use either one or both aluminum plates when you want to lighten your load even further, although doing so requires taking off the elastic band and tucking all your cards and cash back in again. The Portland-based designers didn’t raise as much cash as last time, but still brought in more than $ 80,000 from backers, coasting past the $ 50,000 goal.
Backed: Dash Wallet. The one-piece Dash wallet, named after the designer’s dog who sent his previous wallet to that Great Pocket in the Sky, is another card-centric conveyance focused on easier retrieval of key credit cards. It’s card-sorting features might not be as sophisticated as the Flip n’ Grip’s, but is more advanced than that of the SideR. The killer feature is a small square hole in the side that enables you to partially pop out a credit card for a quick swipe. With about 40 days to go, the campaign has already surpassed its modest $ 10,000 goal.
Whacked: Transcend Wallet. The stainless-steel Transcend by the Boise-based spousal team of MTS not only transforms “from minimalist to maximalist” by switching its slick sliding compartments, but it protects your valuables in two ways — via its stainless steel shell and via a special hidden compartment. Alas, neither was enough to protect the project from insufficient funding and the project fell on its sword. It was clear it would not make its $ 30,000 goal to enable local production in Idaho. The team holds out hope of returning to Kickstarter at some point with a lower funding goal for the Transcend, giving those for whom too many crowdfunded wallet options can never be enough.
Did this on my HTC phone Android app and some dro Video Rating: 0 / 5Related Posts:
While we’ve seen some exotic PC mods in our time, most of those still dutifully stuff all the computer parts into a box, hiding them from the outside world. Martijn Laman isn’t one for that kind of traditionalism. His recently completed Project Inverted, just highlighted by ASUS, puts most of the hardware on the outside: the Sabertooth Z77 motherboard, Core i5 processor, fan cooling, memory, Radeon HD 6870 video card and watercooling pipes all sit in plain sight. Everything is joined by a unique, hand-cut case whose backbone and elevated base hide the custom wiring, the watercooling pump, two solid-state drives and controllers for both fans and lighting. And did we mention the 7-inch touchscreen? The result is a truly special gaming rig that’s relatively quiet and pristine despite baring its heart and soul for all to see. Building a replica won’t be quick, nor will it be cheap at about €1,500 ($ 1,909), but Laman’s detailed assembly process could well be the inspiration for a few more extroverted PCs.
After just under three months of development, Google’s wrapped up its experimental work on bringing the Sony Xperia S into the Android Open Source Project fold. According to Sony, AOSP Technical Lead Jean-Baptiste Quéru considers the effort a success, but the device is being taken off the project’s roadmap so Mountain View can focus on its own hardware. Currently, an AOSP build boots on the Xperia S hardware with support for SD-Cards, Wi-Fi and its built-in sensors. Audio and the phone’s modem are also operational, but they require proprietary binaries Hirai and Co. can’t publish just yet. Work on polishing the handset’s vanilla Android experience isn’t over, however. Sony has moved the code to its GitHub account and is welcoming developers to pitch in and help with the open source effort. For more details and to see what code has already been laid down, tap the second source link or check out the video of the smartphone in action below.
- Source|Tech Meets Blog
The story sounded far-fetched: OLPC researchers, working with a team of technicians in Ethiopia, created a special “hut” covered in solar panels where the children of a few distant towns could go to recharge some toys they were given. The toys were boxed Motorola Xoom tablets and every child between the age of four and eight got one. The researchers were expecting the children to play with the boxes and potentially open them in the first week but instead they turned them on in less than an hour and a few months later were modifying the settings and singing ABC songs. It was, at once, a triumph of technology and of the human capacity to learn.
The hut became a focal point for the town’s children and the kids loved their tablets so much that they slept with them. One kid would learn how to launch a Disney movie and the others would follow. Another kid learned how to unlock the built-in camera. It was a form of viral education that we see, under the surface of many childhood interactions, ever day. They learned without learning.
We first heard this story last week in Boston when we were touring the MIT Media Lab and it sounded too good to be true. The thought that children cut off from education by dint of their physical location were able to learn, without teachers, the rudiments of English and how to manage a complex tablet device, was wild. Luckily MIT’s in-house magazine, Technology Review put together a very nice story about the project and I have to say I’m impressed.After several months, the kids in both villages were still heavily engaged in using and recharging the machines, and had been observed reciting the “alphabet song,” and even spelling words. One boy, exposed to literacy games with animal pictures, opened up a paint program and wrote the word “Lion.”
The experiment is being done in two isolated rural villages with about 20 first-grade-aged children each, about 50 miles from Addis Ababa. One village is called Wonchi, on the rim of a volcanic crater at 11,000 feet; the other is called Wolonchete, in the Great Rift Valley. Children there had never previously seen printed materials, road signs, or even packaging that had words on them, Negroponte said.
I’ve been down on the educational value of “throwing” electronics at kids for years. However, this example of a positive outcome is inspiring. Sadly, these children would presumably have no education at all if they didn’t receive these tablets and the fact that they far surpassed the researcher’s expectations proves, categorically, that modern technology has moved from the realm of the technical to the realm of what can be called conversational. I’m reminded of William Gibson’s comment on going to the movies for the first time.But I remember being taken to my first film, either a Disney animation or a Disney nature documentary (I can’t recall which I saw first) and being overwhelmed by the steep yet almost instantaneous learning curve: in that hour, I learned to watch film. Was taught, in effect, by the film itself. I was years away from being able to read my first novel, and would need a lot of pedagogy, to do that. But film itself taught me, in the dark, to view it. I remember it as a sort of violence done to me, as full of terror as it was of delight. But when I emerged from that theater, I knew how to watch film.
What had happened to me was historically the result of an immensely complex technological evolution, encompassing optics, mechanics, photography, audio recording, and much else. Whatever film it was that I first watched, other people around the world were also watching, having approximately the same experience in terms of sensory input. And that film no doubt survives today, in Disney’s back-catalog, as an experience that can still be accessed.
Reading a book, he wrote, was hard. It required years of education and training and a concentration that many children don’t possess. But, thanks to advances in technology, he and every other child can understand a film, or in this case, a tablet. The skills needed to open a Xoom, turn it on, and play with it have been subsumed deep within the technology. In short, the tablet hides complexity so completely that anyone with a finger and a good head on their shoulders can learn from it. This is a triumph but it is double-edged. On one hand it creates a grave disconnect between the nuts and bolts of the OS and the user and on the other hand it encourages projects like the Raspberry Pi which aims to bring the bare metal back into computer interaction.
Teachers are important. Technology, thankfully, can replace some of their skills. I doubt that dropping a dozen tablets on a remote village in Ethiopia or – and this is true – rural Georgia is the end of our responsibility to these children. It is, however, a promising beginning.
Read the rest of the piece here. Being down on OLPC is fashionable recently, but it’s clearly working.Related Posts:
In less than 24 hours, consumers will be able to purchase Windows 8 hardware from stores worldwide, marking the release of Microsoft’s new touch-friendly operating system. The Verge got a chance to sit down and discuss Microsoft’s big operating system gamble with Windows CFO Tami Reller in a mock family room full of Windows 8 devices at Microsoft’s London offices, where Reller seemed genuinely excited about what Microsoft has achieved so far. “We do think it’s the most ambitious project we’ve embarked on since 1995,” says Reller. “We think it’s the best Windows ever.” Reller would say that though. Microsoft’s vast Windows division has been working day and night recently to complete Windows 8 and ensure any last minute bugs are ironed out…