Awesome Stuff: Cool Components

from the build-something dept

It’s another good week for makers and tinkerers on Kickstarter, with some cool new tools that make traditionally high-end technology available on a budget, plus another kid’s toy that might catch the attention of a few grownups too.

Sweep

For vehicles and robots of all sorts, autonomy is the biggest and most exciting innovative trend these days, and autonomous vehicles are generally powered by one core technology: scanning LiDAR. This is the laser-based sensory system that can map environments, detect objects, and let a computer “see” its surroundings — and while it’s not entirely beyond the grasp of smaller-scale projects, until now getting a decent system was not cheap, and the LiDAR sensor was often the single most expensive component in a robot. That’s what these two creators discovered when they were trying to build their own autonomous robots, so instead they set out to build Sweep: a high-quality LiDAR sensor that clocks in at a mere $250 but attempts to match the performance of systems that cost several thousands. If it works, the ultimate effect could be an explosion of autonomous devices for the average consumer, as makers and engineers everywhere can start having a bit more fun with this critical technology and keeping down the price of products they end up creating.

Bela

This one isn’t especially fancy or revolutionary, it’s just good. The Bela is a low-latency audio processor that does what it says on the tin, and aims to do it really well. One of the liveliest maker frontiers is music: digital technology enables an essentially infinite list of possibilities for modding instruments, building entirely new ones, and connecting instruments to other systems. But music is also still a precision art for many, and any fun or fancy new instrument needs one thing if it’s going to be seriously usable: low latency. Any noticeable delay between hitting a key (or whatnot) and hearing the sound is infuriating and often intolerable. Bela is a tiny, embeddable, programmable audio processing board that boasts a response latency of less than 1ms — a fraction of that achieved even by MIDI on a powerful computer, or one of the iPhone’s many high-end audio apps. If it can consistently deliver on that, it could end up in a whole lot of experimental synthesizers, circuit-bent keyboards and creative audio installations very soon.

Tio

Two weeks ago, I highlighted another tech toy that lets kids build robots. That one took the form of a single unit, with the focus primarily on the programming. The Tio is a neat twist, taking the form of two (or more!) controllable “blocks” that are designed to be mashed together with all sorts of other stuff — Lego pieces, paper and craft materials, old toys, 3D-printed components, and some custom accessories like wheels and pulleys. The focus is more on building (though programming with the app is possible) which opens them up to kids who might still be too young to dive headlong into code — but that’s just a guess, because I’m not a parent. Truth is I just think I’d have fun playing with them myself.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Cool Components”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
1 Comment

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Monitor Everything (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Cool Components (1)
12:42 Tech Companies Ask European Commission Not To Wreck The Internet -- And You Can Too (4)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Play & Listen (1)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Beyond Chiptunes (12)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Updated Classics (3)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Celebrating Cities (1)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Crafts Of All Kinds (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: One Great Knob (13)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Simple Geeky Toys (2)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Gadgets For The New Year (18)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Post-Holiday Grab Bag (0)
13:34 How Private-Sector Innovation Can Help Those Most In Need (21)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Towards The Future Of Drones (17)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Artisanal Handheld Games (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A New Approach To Smartphone VR (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Let's Bore The Censors (37)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Open Source For Your Brain (2)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Final Piece Of The VR Puzzle? (6)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Internet... Who Needs It? (15)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Light Non-Switch (18)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: 3D Printing And Way, Way More (7)
13:00 Techdirt Reading List: Learning By Doing (5)
12:43 The Stagnation Of eBooks Due To Closed Platforms And DRM (89)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Modular Phone For Makers (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Everything On One Display (4)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Everything Is Still A Remix (13)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Great Desk Toy, Or Greatest Desk Toy? (6)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Sleep Hacking (12)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Voice-Operated Household Assistant (19)
More arrow