When Former Journalist Alex Klein embarked on the journey of co-founding Kano, they had big goals for the project, he says
“Whatever you think about software and the world of tech, whether you think it’s intimidating or geeky or unfathomable, we want to convince you that it’s just a different medium like clay or paint.”
Kano is a computer and coding kit, designed in such a way that enables anyone to build it themselves following simple instructions. The devices is a disruptive challenge to an electronics industry built on a business model that provides devices which are delivered fully sealed and not very user serviceable.
Kano is built with a Raspberry Pi; a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It is a capable little computer which can be used in electronics projects, and for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. Kano’s DIY kit adds all the peripherals and software you need to make a fully functioning computer and then learn how to program on it.
Kano runs a customized version of Debian Linux called Kano OS, which was inspired by game console dashboards. The operating system aims to make Linux less intimidating to beginners as well as improving the Pi’s performance.
The device comes loaded with is own visual programming environment called Kano Blocks, which introduces the user to programming by modifying games. The setup and usage of the machine is framed as a series of game levels through which the user can progress. Kano’s team spent a year testing the product with kids, although the computer can be used by any age group.
“We designed this with children because most of us only have the experience with this stuff that a young child has,” says Klein. “Lego has always been the guiding spirit for us, for the software as well. The idea was to create something which has that kind of step-by-step, call-and-response fun of Lego. You do it yourself, you put little pieces together, and you combine them in complex ways.”
At $100 a piece, it appears to be a worthwhile investment for users of all ages who want to own one. Buy one here.