We don’t remember hearing about the One Laptop Per Child initiative distributing tablet computers but apparently a couple of shipments were distributed to rural communities in Ethiopia. The problem one might think of in this scenario is that the literacy rate in the two test villages was basically zero. But that’s exactly the population targeted with thr technology. The tablets were loaded with a software package called Nell. It was designed to guide a child in self learning by telling them engaging stories that include teachable moments. If you check out the white paper (PDF) you’ll find it’s pretty much the exact same teaching technique that [Neal Stephenson] wrote about in his book The Diamond Age. But keep reading that paper and you’ll see that this is because the researchers took their inspiration from that very novel.
Well the results are in and apparently [Neal] knows exactly what he is talking about. Not only did the children learn from the software, but within five months they were hacking the device (which runs Android) to get the disabled camera working.
[Thanks Alexander via Dvice]
Making computers interact with physical objects is a favorite of the HCI gurus out there, but these builds usually take the form of image recognition of barcodes or colors. Of course there are new near field communication builds coming down the pipe, but [Andrea Bianchi] has figured out an easier way to provide a physical bridge between computer and user. He’s using magnets to interact with a tablet, and his idea opens up a lot of ideas for future tangible interfaces.
Many tablets currently on the market have a very high-resolution, low latency magnetometer meant for geomagnetic field detection. Yes, it’s basically a compass but Android allows for the detection of magnets, and conveniently provides the orientation and magnitude of magnets around a tablet.
[Andrea] came up with a few different interfaces using magnets. The first is just a magnets of varying strengths embedded into some polymer clay. When these colorful magnetic cubes are placed on the tablet, [Andrea]’s app is able to differentiate between small, medium, and large magnets.
There are a few more things [Andrea]’s app can do; by placing two magnets on an ‘arrow’ token, the app can detect the direction in which the arrow is pointing. It’s a very cool project that borders on genius with its simplicity.
You can check out [Andrea]’s demo video after the break.
Continue reading “Tablet interacts with magnets, how does that work?”
The Kobo e-reader has been hacked for a while now. It’s pretty easy to enable telnet access by modifying some files. Once [Kevin] was able to telnet into the device and draw to the display, he created the Kobo Wifi Weather Forecast. This hack was inspired by the Kindle weather display that we discussed in the past, but this version runs entirely on the Kobo.
The weather report software is written in Python using the pygame library. After loading the software package onto a Kobo, a few commands are run over telnet to set up Python and run the display. Since Python and pygame run on the Kobo, it allows for direct access to the e-ink display.
There’s a lot of possibilities for a internet connected e-ink device running custom graphics code. It’s asking to be turned into any kind of display you can imagine. What ideas do you have for a custom e-ink display? Let us know in the comments.
The Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon’s newest e-ink reader featuring a touch interface with a higher contrast display, is now officially jailbroken.
[geekmaster], the geek master behind this hack, based his jailbreak off [Yifan]’s previous hack to jailbreak the Kindle Touch. Installation is a snap, and only requires you to upload the data.stgz file to the root directory of the Paperwhite and restart the device. On the next boot, the Paperwhite will be jailbroken, allowing you to do tons of cool stuff with a tiny Linux device connected to an e-ink screen.
We’ve already seen a few really cool uses for jailbroken Kindles including a weather station display and a serial terminal for your Raspberry Pi. Cracking the newer and better Kindle Paperwhite means those e-ink projects you’ve been thinking about building just became much more attractive.
One word of warning from [geekmaster], though: USB downloader mode isn’t yet enabled. If you brick your device, you’ll need to connect your Kindle to a serial port. This shouldn’t be a problem for Hackaday readers, but it is something to watch out for.
[Carnivore] uses a Pipo Max M1 tablet. It’s an Android device that is very responsive thanks t the 1.6 GHz dual-core processor and it runs Jellybean (latest version of Android OS). The one thing he wasn’t so happy with is battery life. Under heavy load it lasts about three hours. When reading an eBook that use can be stretched to 10 hours. His solution was to add an external battery. It turns out the 9.7″ screen makes the body of the device almost exactly the same size as an iPad, so he made an iPad external battery case work with the Android tablet.
[Carnivore] started the hack by disassembling an iP6000 case which houses a 6000 mAh battery. He removed the dock connector and fitted in a 2.5mm power jack. Luckily the buttons on the Android tablet are in nearly the exact same place as those on an iPad, with the power button hole needing just a bit of enlargement. The case charges itself and the tablet’s internal battery using a microUSB port which means he no longer needs to carry around a special power cord. The new hardware increased the battery life by about 75%.
Since the first time [Matt] saw an e-paper display, the idea of using it as a regularly updated, non real-time display consumed him. It really is the perfect platform for very readable calendars, agendas or, as [Matt] found out, a weather display.
[Matt]’s build uses a server to fetch and parse weather data and forecasts from NOAA. This data is then inserted into an SVG file, rendered, converted into a PNG, and finally converted into a grayscale, no transparency image required by the Kindle.
After the image is crafted by [Matt]’s server, a small script running on the Kindle fetches the image, clears the screen, and displays the image. This entire process happens twice a day, often enough for [Matt] to get a good idea of the weather outside without having to look out a window.
The really striking feature of [Matt]’s build is how good his weather display looks. The wonderful iconography of this weather display comes partly from graphics found on The Noun Project, with a few weather conditions drawn by [Matt] himself. It looks great, and is an awesome example of an excellent use of e-paper.
If you’re able to make a project look this good it shouldn’t be hard to convince that significant other to let you install it in a prominent place in the house. We think [Greg Friedland] pulled this off perfectly by building a 4’x8′ tablet controlled LED matrix.
First of all, everything looks better in a shiny case. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this looks nice, thanks to the face plates which are mounted in a way that gives them a modern style (we’d expect to see this hanging in Ikea). They’re acrylic diffuser panels meant for used with lighting in a suspended ceiling. They do a nice job of scattering the light put off by the 544 LED modules that make up the display. The wiring was made easy by using LED strands where each pixel has its own control chip (WS2801). It sounds like the display will peak at around 160 Watts, which isn’t really that much considering the area. One nice touch that’s shown off in the video after the break is a full-feature iPad interface that even allows you to paint in light using your finger. But we’re also satisfied that [Greg] posted about the physical build too.
Continue reading “Bring your LED matrix project into the living room”