Kids/Babies Robots/Drones

Behind its cute smile, the Plobot teaches tykes to program

The idea of teaching young children about the nuances of programming logic is quickly becoming more commonly accepted. Doing so benefits all types of skills, from visualization to problem solving, and help children confront the challenges of a rapidly developing world.

The Plobot is another in a long line of completely physical programming toys created to help children explore the world of progamming world in a very tactile way. Created by NYU robotics professor Rudi Cossovich and ex-Google engineer Sean Purser-Haskell, does away with syntax and computer screens while still educating children about algorithms, loops, conditionals, and more. Command cards are core to the Plobot experience, with each representing a block of code. Kids can tap or swipe them on Plobot’s head to string them together and create a program the robot follows, with the play card serving as an execute function.

Connected Objects Music

Point Motion motion-based MIDI controller gives your beats pyramid power

As technology advances, new and exciting ways to interact with the programs available continue to emerge. Music is no exception: at no other time in history has there been such a democratization of the art. Purists may deride the ease and apparent lack of skill needed to make music today, but the fact remains that anyone with a creative soul can express themselves without having to jump through hoops first.

A product further lowering and innovating the bar is the Point Motion, a camera-equipped device that tracks movements and gestures to allow for music control and creation. The open platform works with the built-in cameras in computers to recognize gestures and use those gestures to control or trigger over 1500 instrument and vocal effect. These gestures can be chosen from what’s pre-loaded or customized by a user, each of which can be used to trigger things like guitar pedals, piano chords, or DJ scratches.

Two applications are also available, too. PuppetMaster lets users create music freely and control acoustic effects, and Point Wellness integrates music into health and wellness practices. Any music created with Point Motion can be transferred via MIDI or OSC to major digital audio workstations like Logic or Ableton Live, and a companion iOS/Android app can offer remote control of Point Motion’s features. Point Motion is going for $175 and is expected to ship in August 2016 should its Indiegogo campaign raise $50,000 by July 2017.

Alternative forms of music interaction are becoming increasingly common, a promising trend for music aficionados everywhere who like to be experimental. Point Motion follows the trend and innovates with a Kinect-like interface, perfect for younger creatives, those who are health conscious and want to use it as an exercise aid, or for older people and their physical therapy needs. Music-wise, it’s similar to the Remidi T8 glove in that it’s a novel, but still practical, way to explore music creation — and more tools to do never hurt.

Input Music

OWOW’s series of digital instruments has you wave, rotate and air-drum tunes

The ubiquity of computers, smartphones, and tablets have all led to a distinctly digital personality when it comes to music creation. Instead of it being regulated to those who spend years mastering a particular instrument, devices have made it so that anyone with a tune in their head can express it with whatever instrument, sound effect, or voice they can find on the internet. Unfortunately, this has made current methods of music creation look more like coding and less like playing.

With their CRD and DVC series of digital instruments, the Omnipresent World of Wizkids (OWOW) is looking to reinject a bit of fun and actual playing to music creation. The series consists of five compact, plug-and-play instruments played with both touch and gesture controls: waving their hands lets users manipulate sounds with the Wob instrument, rotations of the Wiggle instrument will produce different versions of previously assigned effects while users can air drum above the Drums instrument to create percussion. The Pads instrument is a physical miniature drum pad while the Scan is the most experimental of the bunch; with it, users draw dots or lines beforehand that are interpreted as sounds as the Scan is passed over the design.