Instead of simply coloring with crayons, imagine a drawing session with special paper and pens that let you create light-up circuits out of doodles. Or instead of old-fashioned construction paper cut-outs, creating a pop-up book with working lights.
In this talk from TEDYouth 2011, electrical engineer Leah Buechley describes how she and her team at the MIT Media Lab often feel bored by the slow, expensive process of designing circuit boards, that almost always come out looking the same. Their idea? To make designing electronics more like child’s play. In this talk, Buechley shares two projects that make this concept a reality, showing how drawn squiggles can be connected into a playable musical instrument, and how a cut-out cityscape can glow and twinkle like a real skyline.
To see demonstrations of these projects, watch this exciting talk. And after the jump, view three more talks from those who’ve aimed to make electronic design lots more fun.
May these talks inspire you not to miss TEDYouth this coming Saturday, November 17, where Carl Zimmer will reveal a parasite that turns cockroaches into zombies, NASA flight director Bobak Ferdowsi will share how he got a two ton machine to Mars and Jay-Z’s music producer, Young Guru, will talk about the future of hip hop. Even if you aren’t registered for the conference, you can still take part in the fun as the event will be fully livestreamed in English, Spanish and Arabic. (Sign up for a livestream reminder notification here.) At the same time, more than 100 TEDxYouthDay events will be taking place in 42 countries around the globe this weekend. View those events, as well as the 26 of them that will be livestreaming, through the TEDxYouthDay website >>
Ayah Bdeir: Building blocks that blink, beep and teach
TED Fellow Ayah Bdeir introduced us to the next generation of LEGOs at TED2012. Called littleBits, these interchangeable blocks contain transistors that let kids build projects that buzz, blink, dim, pulse and sense — all while learning about programming at the same time.
On November 13 — just a weeks after Hurricane Sandy left downtown Manhattan without electricity — Bdeir held a workshop called “Why did the lights go out?” There, kids were invited to create light-up models of New York City. Bdeir tells the TED Blog, “LittleBits’ mission is to make people understand electronics and electricity in a world that is governed by it. For us, the hurricane was a reminder of how dependent we are on electrical systems, and how little most of us understand how they work. In the workshop we demonstrated how electricity connects to our everyday life — in both simple and extremely dramatic ways — and why Sandy made us lose power.“
Kate Hartman: The art of wearable communication
Kate Hartman is both an artist and technologist, and her projects explore the bounds of human communication. What does that mean, exactly? Well, she’s created a hat that lets the wearer talk to themselves and an inflatable heart that shows the outside world what the wearer is feeling inside.
Neil Harbisson: I listen to color
Artist Neil Harbisson wears an electronic eye. Born with a visual condition called achromatopsia, which only lets him see shades of grey, this eye converts the colors of the world into sounds, allowing him to hear them. In this talk from TEDGlobal 2012, Harbisson explains how this piece of electronic equipment has made going to the supermarket like strolling through a nightclub.
Want to see Buechley’s cut-out cityscape that glows? Below, a picture.