Factor’s Gift Guide: 10 Gifts for Tech-Loving Children

If you’re not sure what to buy for a science, tech or gadget-loving kid, do not fear. We have a host of options that are sure to bring delight well beyond December 25th.

Jr. Astronaut Helmet

£45 from the Science Museum Shop

jr-astronaut-helmet

For all the space cadets out there, this helmet is the perfect gift to help them blast off. With details such as an oxygen vent, pressure indicator and a button to automatically open the visor, this is a must-have for any budding astronauts. Press one of the buttons to activate a countdown with realistic blast off sounds, and enjoy the wonders of space through fresh eyes.

FUZE T2-A Workstation with Raspberry Pi

£149.99 from Fuze

fuze-t2-a-workstation-with-raspberry-pi

Any kid out there with an interest in programming is sure to appreciate this. Combining the simplicity of the Raspberry Pi Version 3 with a whole host of other gear from FUZE, this is a great kit to get kids into computing at an earlier age.  Pre-loaded with FUZE BASIC, and coming with the FUZE BASIC Programmer’s Reference Guide, this is perfect for any young Turings out there.

Y Flyer Red

£129.99 from Yvolution

y-flyer

The all-new release from Yvolution, the Y Flyer Red features a fun and unique forward propelling motion with a sort of bike-scooter combination. Super grip foot plates provide ultimate control, while a quick-response handbrake ensures fast stopping. With a folding frame for easy storage and transport, the Y Flyer Red is a brand new way for your kids to get out and get moving.

ReimaGo Activity Sensor

£39 from Snow and Rock

reimago-activity-sensor

A fun new way to motivate kids to move and play outdoors, the ReimaGo is an activity sensor based on Suunto’s Movesense technology, which measures a kid’s physical activity during the day. Using an app that offers parents the ability to set rewards, and kids the chance to transform their activity scores into energy for a virtual character, the ReimaGo is sure to get little ones exercising.

Cubetto Programmable Robot

£159 from Primo

cubetto

Montessori approved, and LOGO Turtle inspired, the Cubetto is a friendly wooden robot that offers young children easily accessible programming. Powered by a playful programming language that the kids can actually touch, Cubetto offers simple access to the foundation of computing. Coming with a world map and story book, this is a toy that allows your kids to go on an adventure and also get a head start on programming.

Kurio Watch

£79.99 from F Hinds

kurio-watch

The ultimate watch for kids, the Kurio is preloaded with 20 apps for motion gaming, education and social communication. Able to take pictures, edit photos with effects, record videos, text and play music and videos, the Kurio brings everything but the kitchen sink. With a rechargeable battery and even more features than already mentioned, it’s sure to keep kids entertained and active.

Cardventures: Stowaway 52

£9.99 from Amazon

stowaway-52

Stowaway 52 is a Cardventure, an interactive story that puts players in control of the outcome as they try to score the maximum points. Set aboard an alien ship, it’s up to the players to stop the extra-terrestrial attack on Earth. A game that reinforces language and vocabulary development skills, if you’re having any trouble getting your kids reading, this is the perfect way to get them involved.

DIY Electro Dough Kit

£20 from Technology Will Save Us

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If Playdough is no longer hitting the spot, here’s a gift to take it to the next level. After creating scenes and sculptures with the dough, this kit helps your kids learn how electricity works and gives them a chance to play with lights, buzzers and switches.  With hours’ worth of online resources available, you’re sure to have a host of creations to bring to life with light and sound.

4D National Geographic: Imperial China

£21.99 from Amazon

4d-national-geographic-imperial-china

The world’s first multi-layer jigsaw puzzle to teach history at the same time, this 4D puzzle combines physical puzzling with an app to make history interactive. Consisting of 613 puzzle pieces that make up a historical map and 26 model replica monuments and buildings, the learning truly begins once assembly is finished.  Kids can learn key facts through the app, view beautiful images of the monuments or even test themselves with trivia.

3Doodler 2.0 Set

£9.99 from the Science Museum Shop

3doodler

The world’s first 3D printing pen fully redesigned, the 3Doodler 2.0 is even smaller and lighter than the original. Extruding a thin, flexible filament of heated plastic that quickly hardens, the pen allows the user to draw three dimensional shapes in real time. With just a little practice and parental supervision, kids can soon be creating 3D masterpieces, working just as if they were drawing with a pen. The only limit is imagination.

Robot takes first steps towards building artificial lifeforms

A robot equipped with sophisticated AI has successfully simulated the creation of artificial lifeforms, in a key first step towards the eventual goal of creating true artificial life.

The robot, which was developed by scientists at the University of Glasgow, was able to model the creation of artificial lifeforms using unstable oil-in-water droplets. These droplets effectively played the role of living cells, demonstrating the potential of future research to develop living cells based on building blocks that cannot be found in nature.

Significantly, the robot also successfully predicted their properties before they were created, even though this could not be achieved using conventional physical models.

The robot, which was designed by Glasgow University’s Regius Chair of Chemistry, Professor Lee Cronin, is driven by machine learning and the principles of evolution.

It has been developed to autonomously create oil-in-water droplets with a host of different chemical makeups and then use image recognition to assess their behaviour.

Using this information, the robot was able to engineer droplets to have different properties­. Those which were found to be desirable could then be recreated at any time, using a specific digital code.

“This work is exciting as it shows that we are able to use machine learning and a novel robotic platform to understand the system in ways that cannot be done using conventional laboratory methods, including the discovery of ‘swarm’ like group behaviour of the droplets, akin to flocking birds,” said Cronin.

“Achieving lifelike behaviours such as this are important in our mission to make new lifeforms, and these droplets may be considered ‘protocells’ – simplified models of living cells.”

One of the oil droplets created by the robot

The research, which is published today in the journal PNAS, is one of several research projects being undertaken by Cronin and his team within the field of artificial lifeforms.

While the overarching goal is moving towards the creation of lifeforms using new and unprecedented building blocks, the research may also have more immediate potential applications.

The team believes that their work could also have applications in several practical areas, including the development of new methods for drug delivery or even innovative materials with functional properties.

Mac spyware stole millions of user images

A criminal case brought against a man from Ohio, US has shed more light on a piece of Mac malware, dubbed Fruitfly, that was used to surreptitiously turn on cameras and microphones, take and download screenshots, log keystrokes, and steal tax and medical records, photographs, internet searches, and bank transactions from users.

Source: Ars Technica

Drone swarm attack strikes Russian military bases

Russia's Ministry of Defence claims its forces in Syria were attacked a week ago by a swarm of home-made drones. According to Russia's MoD Russian forces at the Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility "successfully warded off a terrorist attack with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)"

Source: Science Alert

Las Vegas strip club employs robot strippers

A Las Vegas strip club has flown in robot strippers from London to 'perform' at the club during CES. Sapphire Las Vegas strip club managing partner Peter Feinstein said that he employed the robots because the demographics of CES have changed and the traditional female strippers aren’t enough to lure a crowd to the club anymore.

Source: Daily Beast

GM to make driverless cars without steering wheels or pedals by 2019

General Motors has announced it plans to mass-produce self-driving cars without traditional controls like steering wheels and pedals by 2019. “It’s a pretty exciting moment in the history of the path to wide scale [autonomous vehicle] deployment and having the first production car with no driver controls,” GM President Dan Ammann told The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Russia-linked hackers "Fancy Bears" target the IOC

Following Russia's ban from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, the Russia-linked hacking group "Fancy Bears" has published a set of apparently stolen emails, which purportedly belong to officials from the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, and third-party groups associated with the organisations.

Source: Wired

Scientists discover ice cliffs on Mars

Using images provided by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have described how steep cliffs, up to 100 meters tall, made of what appears to be nearly pure ice indicate that large deposits of ice may also be located in nearby underground deposits. The discovery has been described as “very exciting” for potential human bases.

Source: Science Mag