New Kids App Bandimal Makes Learning Fun With Cartoon Animals


Whether you’re a singer, a DJ, or a pianist, there’s an app out there designed to sharpen your music skills. But what about the aspiring musicians starting at square one? For young beginners, there’s Bandimal: a new music-making app that swaps out conventional instruments for cartoon animals.

As Co.Design reports, Bandimal is just the latest property in Yatatoy’s line of digital tools that promote creativity in kids. The design of the $4 iOS app is simple: Each character represents a different instrument, with larger animals like the ox and whale producing lower tones and smaller ones like the snake and turtle making higher ones. To make music, users select which animal they wish to “play” then drag the bars at the bottom of the screen to arrange the melody. Players can make the bars short or long depending on whether they want the notes to be low or high.

The concept may sound basic, but the app’s development wasn't so straightforward. It took the team at Yatatoy two years to finalize it. According to designer Lucas Zanotto the element that brought the whole project together was inspired by a real-life instrument played in Africa. Like the bars in Bandimal, the metal tabs on a Kalimba thumb piano come in varying lengths that correspond to their notes.

There’s another reason Bandimal is a great choice for novices: Every note fits into the key of C and the pentatonic scale, so it’s impossible to sound off-key. After orchestrating a few masterpieces, young musicians might be ready to move on to more kid-friendly apps that can teach them to read music as well as create it.

BANDIMAL from Lucas Zanotto on Vimeo.

[h/t Co.Design]

Mickey Mouse Is Getting His Own Beats By Dre Headphones

Beats, Amazon
Beats, Amazon

Since debuting in a black-and-white cartoon in 1928, Mickey Mouse has grown into an icon recognized around the world. To celebrate the character's 90th birthday, Beats by Dre has designed him his very own pair of Solo3s, The Verge reports.

The special-edition, wireless headphones depict a pattern of classic Mickeys against a gray background. They come in a gray felt carrying case—a nod to the material used to make the Mickey Mouse ears sold at Disney parks. The purchase also includes an enamel pin and decal sticker commemorating the anniversary.

At $329.95, the Mickey headphones cost about $30 more than conventional Solo3 headphones, but it's not unusual for Beats to charge extra for limited-edition designs. In 2014, the company released Hello Kitty Solo2s for the character's 40th anniversary for $50 more than the headphones' standard selling price.

The Mickey Beats will be available starting November 11—a few days before the 90th anniversary of the premiere of Steamboat Willie. You can pre-order them on Amazon today.

[h/t The Verge]

This Smart Mug Alerts You When You've Had Too Much Caffeine


Since 2010, Ember has been giving perfectionists ultimate control over their morning coffee. Their travel mug lets you set the preferred temperature of your drink down to the degree when you're on the go, and their ceramic cup allows you to do the same in the office or at home. Now, in addition to telling you how hot your beverage is at all times, Ember lets you know how much caffeine you're consuming through Apple's Health app, CNET reports.

Ember's new feature takes advantage of the same Bluetooth technology that lets you control the temperature of you drink from your smartphone. Beginning October 17, you can connect your Ember vessel to your Apple device to keep track of what you're drinking. If you drink all your tea and coffee from an Ember mug, the Health app should be able to give you a rough estimate of your daily caffeine intake.

Ember wasn't originally designed to measure caffeine content, but its built-in sensors allow it do so. In order to maintain a constant temperature, the mug needs to know whether it's full or empty, and exactly how much liquid it's holding at any given time. The feature also gives you the option to preset your serving size within the app if you drink the same amount of coffee everyday. And if you like to drink specific beverages at their recommended temperatures, the mug can guess what type of drink it's holding based on how hot it is.

The new caffeine-calculating feature from Ember is especially useful for coffee addicts: If the mug senses you've exceeded your recommended caffeine intake for the day, it will alert you on your phone. Here are some energizing caffeine alternatives to keep that from happening.

[h/t CNET]