Tag Archives: gadget

Gestural Interfaces and 2-Year-Olds

In the video above, a dad asks his son to draw something on a new iPad, the ubiquitous Apple tablet.  The 2-year-old clearly has some facility with the device as he casually switches between apps and between tools within the drawing app.  Interestingly, (though not surprisingly for anyone with a 2-year-old,) the boy also wants to use his favorite apps including playing some pre-reading games and watching videos.  He very naturally fast-forwards through the video to his favorite part.  He also knows to change the orientation of the device to properly orient the app to a wider landscape format.

Although I like gadgets, I’m not a true early adopter.  I do carry a PDA — an iPod touch — which my 2- and 4-year-olds enjoy playing with.  It’s amazing how quickly they understand gestural interfaces, pinching, pulling and tapping their way from app to app.

While I don’t think that I need to rush right out and get my kids iPads so they don’t get left behind, (the whole point is that they’re easy to use anyway,) I do wonder about some of the interesting opportunities for learning on these devices: drawing, reading, and linking information.  Of course, they also do a lot of these things on paper which places far fewer limits on their creativity — instead of choosing from 16 colors in a paint program, they can choose from 128 crayon colors or create their own by mixing their paints.

In the end, this new technology is flashy and fun, but I’m not convinced that iPads and other tablets are essential tools that will give our kids and our students a clear learning advantage.  I sure would like one, though.


Filed under Inspiration

Making Friends at the Airport

An old extension cord makes new friends.

An old extension cord makes new friends.

Although I’ve kept this technology blog going for a little over a year now, I’m hardly a gadget geek.  Consequently, I’m not that guy at the airport juggling the laptop, cell phones, pda, digital camera, etc.  Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit of an edupunk: I like the challenge of hacking together affordable technology to wring every last ounce of usability from it.  Or maybe it’s just my lack of disposable income. Either way, I just don’t obsess over all the latest gadgets.

I do have a laptop that I use a lot, though, and I had it open in the airport recently when I found myself sitting next to that guy: He was pulling phone numbers from his laptop which he kept dialing to follow up with sales calls during which he made several references to the various cities and airports he had visited in the past week.

Of course he was talking loud enough for everyone to hear and of course he had two chargers plugged into one of the few electrical outlets in the boarding area for my gate.  I was planning to top up the battery in my laptop for the next leg of my flight, but there was nowhere to plug in.  What to do?  Easy.

A $5 commercial version.

A $5 commercial version.

I had brought along my three-way splitter which I cobbled together from an old three-way extension cord.  (I had used the long cord to make a formerly hard-wired flourescent light plugable and was left with this one foot piece to which I added a $2 replacement plug head.)  Of course, there are plenty of reasonably priced commercial options available, too.

I walked up to that guy, caught his attention, and gestured to my splitter and his chargers.  He gave me a quick be-my-guest wave and kept talking.  I unplugged one of his chargers, and plugged my splitter into the wall.  Into the splitter, I plugged his charger, my laptop charger, and the mp3 player of another passenger.  Instantly, I’m the life of the departure lounge.

If you travel with a laptop, cell phone, or other device that requires charging, bring one of these devices.  You’ll always have a place to plug in your charger and you might even earn some travel karma by helping out a gadget geek in need.

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Filed under Inspiration, Projects