A do-it-yourself computer kit that got its start through a Kickstarter campaign is now available to young would-be coders. Kano, which got its start through crowdfunding in 2013, is targeting its $150 kit at technology-minded kids ages 6 to 14.
Based in London, Kano was founded by CEO Yonatan Raz-Fridman, an Israeli entrepreneur; Chief Product Officer Alex Klein, a former technology and finance journalist; and Saul Klein, an entrepreneur whose son Micah inspired the do-it-yourself computer concept.
Built using a Raspberry Pi single-board computer, the Kano kit also comes with a keyboard, speaker and other hardware, although it doesn't include a display monitor. Designed to be easily snapped together Lego-style, the kit -- once built -- then enables users to teach themselves how to code.
Backers Include 'Woz'
The idea for Kano was born when Micah Klein challenged his cousin Alex to create a computer he could build by himself. Micah's father, Saul Klein, then introduced his cousin to Raz-Fridman, and the two began developing the Kano kit in a London flat.
The startup team launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2013 with the goal of raising $100,000. Within less than 30 days, more than 13,000 backers came forward to pledge over $1.5 million, and Kano started moving from concept to kit.
The company's supporters include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Kickstarter co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler, former Obama for America CTO Harper Reed, and Ellen Miller, founder of the Center for Responsive Politics.
'Creativity, Not Just Consumption'
"We wanted to build a computer with creativity, not just consumption, at the core," said Alex Klein. The idea, he said, was to make computer-building and coding "as simple and fun as Lego."
We reached out to Klein to learn more about the response to Kano.
"What surprised us most has been the diversity of computer makers taking on Kano," Klein wrote in an e-mail. "Kids as young as 6, 40-something military veterans, 22-year-old slam poets have all been interested in building with Kano. We designed Kano for the kid at heart, the curious spirit that wants to look inside, question orthodoxies, and take control. We're finding that latent spirit in a lot of people around the world, 86 countries."
Pre-release versions of the Kano kit have already been ordered by 18,000 families around the world, according to the company's blog. Using Kano OS software based on Debian Linux, the kit allows users to output and test code, and to build games like Pong, Snake and Minecraft.
Kano also lets users build wireless servers, create synthesizer beats and songs, and develop and share open-source apps with other Kano kit owners.
"This extends beyond the Western world," said Raz-Fridman. "If we can put the power of a new personal computing experience, an open one, in the hands of those who never had it before, imagine the possibilities."
Posted: 2014-10-15 @ 4:49am PT
Keep in mind that you can also use the Kano Computer to drive external devices such as motors and read input from, say, a light dependent resistor for robotics projects such as a simple line following robot. See this article to learn how to use Scratch (MIT Media Lab's graphical programming language) to create a simple program to flash an LED with the Kano: http://www.science20.com/square_root_of_not/kano_computer_in_a_word_wow-146511
Posted: 2014-10-08 @ 3:11pm PT
It's great to get coding into the hands of people ('kids') that do not use the word "can't", just keep improving after a hutch. I think the 'pro's" better watch out, because we are going to see new and wonderful applications and uses!!!