This is Crowdsourcing Mornings! This post takes place every weekday morning and highlights one crowdsourcing project I liked from Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or other crowdsourcing websites.
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Computer Engineering for Babies is a simple board book designed to keep your baby engaged while they learn about the stuff that computers are made from. If you skipped CE150, or just happened to miss the first couple of days, then this book ought to catch you up.
Around 5 years ago, when my boy Frank was still a baby, I noticed his fascination with buttons, switches, and levers. Often he would have me hold him next to a light switch just so he could flip it off, jerk his head around to confirm that the bulb was indeed turned, and whirl back around again to toggle the switch back on. Over and over again. He was so fascinated by the cause and effect of a switch and a light bulb. At around the same time, I had an incredibly hard time keeping him quietly entertained during church meetings, and I fell in love with the idea of a simple book with buttons and lights. Computer Engineering for Babies is designed to be (quietly) entertaining while helping build basic intuition for simple digital logic concepts.
Why Computer Engineering?
I studied computer engineering in school, and was surprised by how simple some of the concepts are. Yet, I wasn’t introduced to any of them until after high school. Computers are made up of on and off signals, and this book introduces some of the ways that computers combine on/off signals to do interesting things.
Frank is six now. And after leaving and coming back to this project too many times, I’ve finally found the drive to finish it all the way to production. I’ve gone through at least 8 different prototypes, and redesigned the circuit board at least 5 times to get it to where it is today.
The book has 6 pages. Each page has a different function; WIRE, NOT, OR, AND, XOR and LATCH. Sensors in the book detect which page you are on so that the buttons can have different functions depending on the active page. So when you open to the AND page, the LED is only lit when both buttons are pressed. And when you are open to the NOT page the LED is on as long as the button is NOT being pressed. And each page lights the LED with a different color.
I wanted this book to be super user friendly. Some might think it’s a stupid detail, but I spent months just finding the right arcade style button with the perfect click when pressed. For a time, I was even considering injection molding my own custom buttons just to make sure I got it right. But I eventually found a button that’s low profile to fit, easy to press, and has great tactical feel.
The book is also super low power, and should last about a year on the shelf. It also has a replaceable battery, so after your kid is done with it, you can just have another to get more value out of the book!
As of September 28th, this project has raised $230,000 of their $10,400 goal. This project has 1 days left to raise as much as it can. For a pledge of $27, you will get one book. For a pledge of $75, you will get three books. To learn more and to pledge money, go to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/babyengineering/computer-engineering-for-babies?