We worked with Kano to create three new kits that build upon their philosophy of demystifying and democratising computing through making and storytelling. We helped them identify and develop three new connected products that are fun to build, easy to code and simple to learn to use. The Pixel Kit, Camera Kit and Speaker Kit reflect the tiny connected computers that our world is now full of and aim to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers and doers to build the Internet of Things.
The industrial design is driven by communicating how the kits are assembled and how components relate to one another to function as a whole. Continuing the use of transparent plastic as used on the original Kano Computer kit meant that each individual component can be seen from the outside and so great consideration went into the selection and positioning of these, as they form the character of the product as much as the casings themselves.
The simple square design language ties the functionally different products together and coloured buttons and dials give clear and understandable touchpoints. Further physical components including a dual-function tripod/hand grip and interchangeable lenses for the Camera Kit add to the fun and teaching.
All three kits are portable and can be used offline, but their true potential is realised through Kano Code and the Internet. The Pixel Kit is a 128 LED grid that can be used to display data, code art and play games such as Snake, Pong or Space Invaders coded in Kano Code from it’s memory card and when connected to the Internet live data such as weather and messages can be streamed. Additional code can create animated gifs, special filters and spy cameras for the Camera Kit or the Speaker Kit can read out tweets or stream live radio from the International Space Station via NASA’s web radio.
All three kits continue the hands-on making experience of the original Kano Computer Kit. The Speaker Kit is a smart Bluetooth speaker and synthesiser; stream music, make electronic music through code, make walkie talkies or modulate your voice. But before all of that learn how the product is made; build the board, add the speaker and bass reflex pipe, clip on the buttons and dials and assemble it into its case. All of this is part of the process of understanding how hardware and software work together to make a connected product.
Extra sensors connect to the kits to give them extra powers and enable further exploration, experimentation and innovation. The Tripwire sensor can turn the camera into a spy camera; the Gesture sensor lets you bend sound with your hand on the speaker and the Tilt sensor adds more gaming controls to the Pixel Kit.
We designed the sensors to subtly reflect the technology inside them – a small ball bearing rolling around a channel on the Tilt sensor indicates movement, the Tripwire sensor is reminiscent of an eyeball and Sound sensor a telephone earpiece.
We built on the unboxing experience established with the original Kano Computer Kit and ensured that the packaging and product were considered together. When the magnetic lid of the box is opened, the parts of the kit are neatly arranged to explain the assembly with the instruction manual and kit books held in the lid.