This Build-Your-Own Touchscreen Computer Will Help Your Kid Learn to Code

Kano
Kano

Though most people rely on computers and smart phones every single day, many of us have almost no clue how these machines work. The coding education startup Kano hopes to change that by showing kids how to assemble their own computers with step-by-step instructions. And now, it’s teaching kids how to put together touchscreens.

Kano’s new Computer Kit Touch lets you build a touchscreen computer that you can use to play Kano's coding games. It comes equipped with a 10-inch screen that you hook up to a Raspberry Pi computer, as well as a separate keyboard with a trackpad.

Like the rest of Kano’s products, putting together the computer is simple enough. You just need to follow a streamlined set of illustrated directions akin to what you’d get if you were putting together a set of LEGOs. In the process, kids can learn the basics of computing without getting too overwhelmed by tech specs.

A disassembled touch computer kit
Kano

Once assembled and booted up, the computer runs on Kano’s custom educational operating system. Kids can add apps like YouTube and Whatsapp, play Kano’s coding games, making art projects, and explore Kano World, the social learning community where users share the cool things they’ve come up with using their own kits. The touchscreen kit is essentially a revved-up version of the original computer kit, adding in the ability to draw and gesture with the touchscreen as part of its coding games and challenges, while still allowing you to use a keyboard if you want to.

It seems obvious that a kid-focused company like Kano would want to get into the touchscreen game. Many children love tablets and other touchscreens, much to the chagrin of parents and education experts who worry that so much screen time might be harming their development. In 2017, Common Sense Media reported that 42 percent of kids between the ages of 0 and 8 had their own tablet at home. Parents who are concerned about their kids spending an unhealthy amount of time with touchscreens might feel more at peace giving them something like Kano, which combines the fun parts of an iPad—i.e., access to YouTube—with games and challenges that are specifically tailored to helping kids learn.

Kano launched its original computer kit on Kickstarter in 2013, and has recently been expanding its offerings beyond the computers themselves. Earlier this year, the company came out with a Harry Potter wand kit, and prior to that, the company debuted a motion sensor, a camera, and a light-pixel array, among other gadgets, all designed to help kids learn coding skills.

The touchscreen kit sells for $279.

Charge Your Gadgets Anywhere With This Pocket-Sized Folding Solar Panel

Solar Cru, YouTube
Solar Cru, YouTube

Portable power banks are great for charging your phone when you’re out and about all day, but even they need to be charged via an electrical outlet. There's only so much a power bank can do when you’re out hiking the Appalachian Trail or roughing it in the woods during a camping trip.

Enter the SolarCru—a lightweight, foldable solar panel now available on Kickstarter. It charges your phone and other electronic devices just by soaking up the sunshine. Strap it to your backpack or drape it over your tent to let the solar panel’s external battery charge during the day. Then, right before you go to bed, you can plug your electronic device into the panel's USB port to let it charge overnight.

It's capable of charging a tablet, GPS, speaker, headphones, camera, or other small wattage devices. “A built-in intelligent chip identifies each device plugged in and automatically adjusts the energy output to provide the right amount of power,” according to the SolarCru Kickstarter page.

A single panel is good “for small charging tasks,” according to the product page, but you can connect up to three panels together to nearly triple the electrical output. It takes roughly three hours and 45 minutes to charge a phone using a single panel, for instance, or about one hour if you’re using three panels at once. The amount of daylight time it takes to harvest enough energy for charging will depend on weather conditions, but it will still work on cloudy days, albeit more slowly.

The foldable panel weighs less than a pound and rolls up into a compact case that it can easily be tucked away in your backpack or jacket pocket. It’s also made from a scratch- and water-resistant material, so if you get rained out while camping, it won't destroy your only source of power.

You can pre-order a single SolarCru panel on Kickstarter for $34 (less than some power banks), or a pack of five for $145. Orders are scheduled to be delivered in March.

Watch Ford's Sweaty-Butt Robot Put a Car Seat to the Test

iStock.com/gargantiopa
iStock.com/gargantiopa

Buyers tend to look at price, safety, and gas mileage when shopping for a car; a question that rarely comes up at the dealership is how well a car seat stands up to years of butt sweat. But even if it isn't a priority for car owners, the vehicle testers at Ford work to ensure the cars that leave the factory can accommodate the sweatiest passengers.

The secret to Ford's durable seats is a device called the Robutt. This video from the car company shows a Kuka robotic arm pushing a buttocks-shaped cushion into a car seat. To replicate a person sitting in the car after exercising, the dummy butt is heated to approximately human body temperate and pumped with half a liter of water. The average person produces about 0.7 to 1.5 liters of sweat in one hour of intense exercise, and people who are especially fit perspire 1.5 to 1.8 liters in the same time.

The sit test is repeated 7500 times over three days—simulating one decade of someone driving their sweaty behind home from the gym. If the surface of a car seat can make it through all that abuse without any wear and tear, the design is good enough for a Ford vehicle. Robutt-approved seats were first introduced in the 2018 Ford Fiesta and are now being built into all Ford vehicles in Europe.

You can watch the messy process play out below. Here are some more robots that, like the Robutt, were designed for oddly specific tasks.

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