The Kano project is part of the ‘maker’ movement, using fun learning techniques to help people understand how a computer works and teach them to code.

[LTW] Building your own computer helps you to master technology

Kano has just raised more money on the Kickstarter crowdfunding site than any other learning invention to date. Around 14,000 contributors pledged $1.52 million in thirty days – ten times the original goal set. The project which has aroused such unprecedented interest among crowdfunders is based around a computer and coding kit that enables you to build your own computer.  Conceived in London, the product is designed to be “as simple and fun as Lego,” chorus Kano’s three founders and the promotion team. However, behind this marketing slogan lies a real desire to help people to understand ICT devices in common daily use. “We all use our tablets, smartphones and computers all day long but mostly without really understanding how they actually work″, Mathew Keegan, Head of Customer Support at Kano, pointed out in conversation with L’Atelier during London Technology week, which ran from 16 to 20 June.

An open source operating system

″Everyone ought to be able to get to grips with technology tools, not just use them,” insists Keegan.

The Kano kit – comprising eleven separate parts made in China – gives you that opportunity. According to the demonstration video it takes just two minutes to put it together. However, the real value of Kano goes beyond just building the computer. In fact its simple construction is designed to reveal exactly what you can do with it. Kano allows you to start coding and creating your own games, composing your own music, streaming HD video, and many other things. Another plus with Kano is that it uses an open source operating system, which enables each and every user to re-programme according to his/her needs. The kit does not include a screen but the HDMI cables and USB ports that come with the kit mean that you can hook it up to any screen or tablet.

Integrating with school programmes

“We tested the kit with a hundred or so people aged six to eighty. The fact is, age doesn’t matter,” underlines Mathew Keegan. The success of the crowdfunding campaign illustrates this. So far 15,000 kits have been pre-sold via Kickstarter and Kano’s online store. Customers should be receiving them soon. ″Not only in the UK, but everywhere in the world,” promises Keegan. In addition, many schools and teachers have already contacted the Kano team with a view to using the Kano kit in their schools. ″It’s the perfect tool to help implement the new UK computing curriculum and we’re currently working with teachers to provide Kano labs in schools,” Keegan revealed.

By Virginie de Kerautem