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How a Charm Bracelet Inspired the Monopoly Tokens

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Getty Images

No doubt you’ve heard that the Internet elected a new token to the Monopoly lineup—and it’s a cat. Shocker. I’m sure somewhere Maru is celebrating by jumping into a box that’s smaller than his head and Grumpy Cat is disgruntled. Though it’s been a big news item that—gasp!—the iron is no longer an option for passing Go and landing in jail, this is hardly the first time the Monopoly game has undergone a minor facelift.

When Charles Darrow first started selling the game, he suggested using household items, like buttons, as tokens. It was only after Parker Brothers purchased the game from Darrow in 1935 that they decided to offer actual tokens. Darrow’s nieces, it turns out, were fond of making Monopoly tokens from their charm bracelet baubles or from prizes out of Cracker Jacks boxes. In some versions of the story, Darrow noticed that neighborhood kids were using the charms. Whatever the inspiration was, the Parker Brothers folks liked the idea because it was different than what any other board game was using at the time, and because they were already on friendly terms with a company who produced such trinkets. Dowst Manufacturing already had 15 perfectly-sized charms on their production line, so Parker Brothers appropriated four of them, including the thimble.

The tokens changed again because of metal conservation efforts during WWII—crude tokens vaguely shaped like cars, irons and elephants were made from a composite material, and in some editions, colored wooden pegs replaced the shaped tokens entirely. After WWII, Parker Brothers went back to metal playing pieces and added a fighter plane for a brief period of time.

Monopoly Wiki

In the early 50s, tokens you probably didn’t even know existed—the lantern, the purse, and the rocking horse—were replaced by our modern mainstays: the dog, the wheelbarrow, and the horse and rider.

Sundown Farm and Ranch

Of course, many of us probably remember a public vote in 1998, when Monopoly enthusiasts decided a bag of money would be the newest Monopoly piece. It was phased out in 2007. I suspect the cat is similarly destined for a relatively quick retirement.

By the way, am I the only one who grew up thinking the cannon was actually a spinning wheel?

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UsTwo
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This Augmented-Reality App Makes the Hospital Experience Less Scary for Kids
UsTwo
UsTwo

Staying in a hospital can be a scary experience for kids, but a little distraction can make it less stressful. According to studies conducted by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, UK, distracted patients have an easier time with their appointments and require less pain medication. Now, Co.Design reports that the hospital is releasing its own app designed to keep children entertained—and calm—from the moment they check in.

The Android and iOS app, called Alder Play, was designed by ustwo, the makers of the wildly popular smartphone game Monument Valley and the stress relief tool Pause. Patients can download the app before they arrive at the hospital, choosing a virtual animal buddy to guide them through their stay. Then, once they check into the hospital, their furry companion shows them around the facility using augmented-reality technology.

The app features plenty of fun scavenger hunts and other games for kids to play during their downtime, but its most important features are designed to coach young patients through treatments. Short videos walk them through procedures like blood tests so that when the time comes, the situation will feel less intimidating. And for each step in the hospitalization process, from body scans to gown changes, doctors can give kids virtual stickers to reward them for following directions or just being brave. There’s also an AI chatbot (powered by IBM’s Watson) available to answer any questions kids or their parents might have about the hospital.

The app is very new, and Alder Hey is still assessing whether or not it's changing their young hospital guests’ experiences for the better. If the game is successful, children's hospitals around the world may consider developing exclusive apps of their own.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Cell Free Technology
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This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

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