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New 'Pentop' Computer To Help Children Learn

ScuttleMonkey posted about 9 years ago | from the one-more-gadget-for-kids-to-lose dept.

Handhelds 144

theodp writes "Educational toymaker LeapFrog is introducing the Fly "pentop" computer, a talking computer hidden within a pen the size of an electric toothbrush. Available in mid-October for $99 at Wal-Mart and Target, the device responds to written commands and is aimed at 9-14 year-olds who can use it as a calculator, a calendar, to create and record music, and to play logic and geography games."

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Are they mad? (4, Insightful)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | about 9 years ago | (#13387649)

I have 2 kids who are about 14, and I got to say there is no way I would give them something that costs $99 and is the size of a pen. They would loose it in 3 days.

Re:Are they mad? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387656)

How does one "loose" a pen?

Re:Are they mad? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387682)

Huh? How does one *not* loose a pen? There are a million ways to loose a pen, and the younger you are the easier it is.

Re:Are they mad? (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 9 years ago | (#13387712)

Sigh.

I have a loose tooth, but I'm determined not to lose it.

Lose: To *not* win, to misplace (forever).
Loose: Not tight.

Re:Are they mad? (3, Funny)

ExKoopaTroopa (671002) | about 9 years ago | (#13387765)

I always thought pens were like umbrellas, they don't belong to anyone in particular, they just appear and you pick one up when you need one...

Re:Are they mad? (2, Insightful)

LosManos (538072) | about 9 years ago | (#13387801)

hejdig.

>they don't belong to anyone...
>...pick one up when you need one

This is correct, they are. And that is a problem for people like me who happens to prefer certain pens. I find/try a pen I like; I buy one; I watch it like a hawk.
Then I put it on a table; turn around for a second; and the pen is lost again.
Finally I go out and buy a new one. Pens are common property and I am the outcast. I have stopped crying.

/OF

Re:Are they mad? (1)

Lil-Bondy (849941) | about 9 years ago | (#13387812)

gee... iv always needed an umbrella

Re:Are they mad? (2, Funny)

alexhs (877055) | about 9 years ago | (#13387817)

> I always thought pens were like umbrellas, they don't belong to anyone in particular, they just appear and you pick one up when you need one...

So they would be like music and films, you don't steal them, you're infringing on some obscure thing called 'copyright' ? ;)

Re:Are they mad? (1)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | about 9 years ago | (#13387842)

No, it would be 'writeright' - right?

writeright (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387909)

right ;)

Re:Are they mad? (1)

Kiffer (206134) | about 9 years ago | (#13388530)

I hate people who think like this ... they just appear when you need one... so you take it...
No it hasn't just appeared when you needed it, it's mine I put it there to dry you thieving bastard, now I'm getting wet because someone stole my umbrella...(*)

and as for pens... right, they're cheap, worth almost nothing... then buy your own, there's a word for people who absent mindedly put things that dont belong to them into their pockets and wander off... kleptomaniac

(*)Please not that I dont actualy own an umbrella, in fact I hate them, I think they're next to usless, and little old ladys use them to stab me in the eyes...
 

Re:Are they mad? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387755)

How does one "loose" a pen?
I don't know. I've just tried throwing one up in the air and shouting, "you're free, you're free", but the stupid pen just plummeted to the ground. I think it had something to do with the Intelligent Gravity but I did expect the pen to at least attempt to escape its infernal servitude.

Re:Are they mad? (1)

woot account (886113) | about 9 years ago | (#13388965)

"Pen, thou art loosed!"?

Re:Are they mad? (1)

bn-7bc (909819) | about 9 years ago | (#13387662)

well just wait til the cheap asian copys com out, tha latest is always overpriced

Re:Are they mad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13388893)

You need a cheap Asian copy of an English dictionary. :) Couldn't resist.

Re:Are they mad? (3, Insightful)

AlphaJoe (798014) | about 9 years ago | (#13387693)

Uhmmmm...it isn't the size of a pen, it is the size of an electric toothbrush. Substantially bigger than a pen, I must say. Which, unless it is lighter than the average electric toothbrush, I think it may be a bit unwieldy for younger kids.

Re:Are they mad? (1)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | about 9 years ago | (#13388231)

My kids would probably still loose it, even if it is a bit bigger. They are very good at loosing stuff, it comes from being a teen ager (or an almost teen ager)

Re:Are they mad? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13388439)

If you typed "loose" instead of "lose" it could be a typo. Since you did it twice, you are one of the many people online who do not know the difference between lose and loose. Join the club.

Re:Are they mad? (2, Funny)

Pxtl (151020) | about 9 years ago | (#13388981)

Get it right:

Suzie's about to lose her anal virginity. After that happens, her ass will be very loose.

Re:Are they mad? (1)

Angostura (703910) | about 9 years ago | (#13388273)

And if they don't lose it, it will certainly help them learn how to get mugged in the playground.

I feel so duped! (3, Informative)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 9 years ago | (#13387653)

Leapfrog Talking Pen [slashdot.org]

Re:I feel so duped! (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | about 9 years ago | (#13389139)

That was before release...this is after. It's a follow-up.

No...no...no!! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387658)

I said consummate v's...CONSUMMATE!

Oh, I see what you did there. (-1, Offtopic)

James A. D. Joyce (742507) | about 9 years ago | (#13387875)

I hi hi hi hi hi hi, dig a pony
Well you can celebrate anything you want
Yes, you can celebrate anything you want
Ooh

I hi hi hi hi hi hi, do a roadhog
Well you can penetrate any place you go
Yes, you can penetrate any place you go

I told you so
All I want is you
Everything has got to be
just like you want it to
Because

I hi hi hi hi hi hi, pick a moondog
Well you can radiate everything you are
Yes, you can radiate everything you are
Ooh

I hi hi hi hi hi hi, roll a stoney
Well you can imitate everyone you know
Yes, you can imitate everyone you know

I told you so
All I want is you
Everything has got to be
just like you want it to
Because

I hi hi hi hi hi hi, feel the wind blow
Well you can indicate everything you see
Yes, you can indicate everything you see
Ooh

I hi hi hi hi hi hi, cold and lonely
Well you can syndicate any boat you row
Yes, you can syndicate any boat you row

I told you so
All I want is you
Everything has got to be
just like you want it to
Because...

another computer? (5, Insightful)

michalf (849657) | about 9 years ago | (#13387663)

great!

Now how can I tell my children that hiking, climbing, biking gives much more fun than electronic gadgets??? Do you really think such gadgets are good for children?

Somehow I am getting more and more sceptical about these pseudo-educational gadgets.

michal

Re:another computer? (0)

alphan (774661) | about 9 years ago | (#13387722)

Now how can I tell my children that hiking, climbing, biking gives much more fun than electronic gadgets???

I don't see any reason why one shouldn't make an electronic gadget which teaches hiking, climbing or biking in addition to writing, reading, etc.

Re:another computer? (0, Troll)

myukew (823565) | about 9 years ago | (#13387786)

What kind of parent are you, thinking of ways to *lie* to your children??

Re:another computer? (1)

ebuck (585470) | about 9 years ago | (#13387939)

There's a huge market for electronic junk.

Remember the mini-robot craze of the late 80's. I mean, most of those "robots" were no different than the bumper car toys of the early 80's. Drive forward, bump into something, pull back and to the left, drive forward again. Close inspection revealed that they were the bumper car toys of the 80's with a "robot" plastic shell on top.

Take your kids hiking. Nature provides far more than you can pack into an electronic gadget. But to appreciate nature, you'll have to teach them something about it. Just like listening to music, or browsing an art gallery, reading computer code, or working on a car, hiking is much more interesting and fun when it is coupled with domain specific education.

Re:another computer? (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 9 years ago | (#13388000)

Now how can I tell my children that hiking, climbing, biking gives much more fun than electronic gadgets??? Do you really think such gadgets are good for children?

You can't. You have to show them. If you don't personally do these things when you have a chance rather than play with your own electronic gadgets, they're not going to be interested. If you're not going to put your money where your mouth is, don't tell your kids stuff like that. Kids are very sensitive to hypocracy, they haven't learned to doublethink yet.

Re:another computer? (1)

Bob3141592 (225638) | about 9 years ago | (#13388395)

Right. It is only pseudo-educational. If it can record music, that will be it's dominant use, almost certainly. And that's just a distraction, not anything that will help kids learn.

Re:another computer? (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 years ago | (#13388416)

Now how can I tell my children that hiking, climbing, biking gives much more fun than electronic gadgets???

How? by getting off your ass and doing it with them. my techno-girl daughter hated camping and hiking until I exposed her to geo-cache activities. I bought her a $119.99 GPS and she combines computers and hiking, camping, biking and outdoor activities. Plus we get to do these things as a family, she is learning a skill that 99.997% of the populace lack.... the ability to search for and find things that are hidden or not obvious with neon signs pointing at them.

This summer I upped the ante. we did a geo-cache locating hunt without a gps. we plotted the location on a paper map and went searching with only the map and a compass.

THAT is how you get your kids outside.

hope they patented it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387669)

This invention should be protected by patents.

For all those slashdotters out there bagging patents, realise that you are uninventive fools who could never possibly dream up a wonderful product such as this.

That's the benefit of hindsight.

From your friendly patent attorney.

Do they have a Black Magic-marker version? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387673)

Following Fly's instructions, you draw a calculator box with numbers including "plus" and "minus" symbols on a piece of Fly paper. Then, you tap the numbers you want to calculate with the pen, and the gadget makes additions, subtractions, divisions, and multiplications for you.
"After you have drawn the pentagram, you must go get the goat..." The voices from my pen told me to do it, yeah that's it!

over-priced and kinda ... dumb (5, Insightful)

YuriGherkin (870386) | about 9 years ago | (#13387686)

Is it just me, or does this gadget come across as just ... stupid and overpriced ? Seriously, you have to buy their "special" paper to use it!

Why would you pay so much for a device without a screen? You can pick up a Palm Zire 31 for around USD$130 and you get something that kids would think is SO much better than a talking pen.

"[the pen] can "see" what you write, read it out loud, and respond to written commands."

Oh yeah, I can just see kids using it to spell a whole load of non-educational words and have the pen read them out aloud in the classroom. LOL!

Re:over-priced and kinda ... dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387730)

"Eat up Martha."

Re:over-priced and kinda ... dumb (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 9 years ago | (#13387744)

You can pick up a Palm Zire 31 for around USD$130 and you get something that kids would think is SO much better than a talking pen.

My 3.5 year old son loves the notepad application on my Palm. He has 23 pages of inexpensive scribble on there.

I had to take him to a family funeral last week and when he got bored the palm was just the thing to keep him occupied. I know who is going to inherit this unit when I upgrade.

Re:over-priced and kinda ... dumb (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 9 years ago | (#13387788)

"This my father's PDA. I've upgraded the memory and OS several times, changed the batteries, screen and case. Added WiFi. But it's still my father's PDA!"

RE: over-priced and kinda ... dumb (1)

milimetric (840694) | about 9 years ago | (#13388458)

I totally agree, check this out from TFA:

"Many of the games are fairly complex, the sort of logic exercises I remember going through to get ready for my graduate school exam. One example: You see a drawing of an ant, a bear, a cat, and a dog. It's a multiple-choice question, so you have to pick, by tapping with the pen, the next animal to complete this chain. The answer is elephant, of course, as the creatures in the chain are placed in alphabetical order, and the word starts with an 'e'"

ahahahahahaha ... graduate school ... ahahahahahahahahahahahaha
hahahahahahaha aaAAAAHHHAAhahhahahaah AHAHAhaaaaahahahahahaaaahAHAAAAAAha
WTF?? graduate school? Holy freaking God

This isn't graduate school... it's a center for Ants! It has to be at LEAST ... 3 times this size!!

That's right folks, you heard it here first, if you want your kids to go to graduate school thinking that because they know e comes after d in the alphabet they're hot shit, go ahead and buy them this AWesomeTAstic pen, and teach them to say "w00t" whenever they put letters in correct alphabetical order.

Good luck to them (1)

unlabeledchick (903576) | about 9 years ago | (#13387687)

I really doubt they'll sell a whole lot of them. The whole concept is rather pointless, really. You can use your phone for far more, it may be bigger, but at least it's wifi! And I suppose you can make calls on it. As a great comedian once pointed out, you buy hundreds of pens, but where's one when you need it? This product will not last very long.

Re:Good luck to them (1)

tsmithnj (738472) | about 9 years ago | (#13387998)

Leapfrog "computers" are very popular at libraries. My daughter checked out nd completed the entire set of leapfrog learning modules over a period of time. I bet between libraries and educational institutions alone they will be successful.

Missing something (2, Interesting)

kafka47 (801886) | about 9 years ago | (#13387689)

We just had a thread on the future of technology in schools [slashdot.org] .

Something tells me that this is not it. Seriously.

/K

Re:Missing something (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 9 years ago | (#13387767)

They need a catchy name for an activity involving the pens and web pages so that cyber-posers can act cool using it. Wait .. a paper diary that syncs straight to a web page. Fly Logging or Flogging!

I for one, blah blah, Flogger Overlords...

Glorified Wacom? (1)

delire (809063) | about 9 years ago | (#13387691)


If it didn't need this special 'paper' I would find it more interesting, that and an API/development kit for authoring my own applications for the device.

Using any flat surface (within reason) as a 'tablet'/gestural interface interests me greatly.

Re:Glorified Wacom? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 9 years ago | (#13387763)

If it didn't need this special 'paper' I would find it more interesting,

There is no reason why it can't work like a computer mouse. They must be trying to make money off their paper.

Re:Glorified Wacom? (1)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | about 9 years ago | (#13387864)

Wouldn't you encounter tracking problems when lifting the pen from the normal paper?

Re:Glorified Wacom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387929)

> Using any flat surface (within reason)

Oh.

*puts his pants back on* -- no electronic-device-buttocks-writing today.

Yeah, _THIS_ looks valuable (5, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 9 years ago | (#13387692)

One of the many gushing tidbits from TFA:

It took me a while to get hang of using the calculator (the circled "C" is the shortcut), one of Fly's really cool features. Following Fly's instructions, you draw a calculator box with numbers including "plus" and "minus" symbols on a piece of Fly paper. Then, you tap the numbers you want to calculate with the pen, and the gadget makes additions, subtractions, divisions, and multiplications for you. Here, too, you need good handwriting.

OK, so I need special paper, good handwriting, I draw a picture of a calculator, tap the numbers, and it speaks the answer. What could be simpler?

The UI on this thing sounds horrible, and the features it provides don't sound fun or useful, but other than that, it seems like a great device.

Re:Yeah, _THIS_ looks valuable (5, Interesting)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 9 years ago | (#13387747)

Not to mention that the calculator doesn't have an actual display, just the pen talking. That seems awkward when it's some large number. Any bets that if you start writing the number down (with the pen) as the pen speaks it, you'll interrupt it?

Re:Yeah, _THIS_ looks valuable (1)

ebuck (585470) | about 9 years ago | (#13388013)

If that's the calculator interface, I'm really worried about the calendar interface.

I mean, if I draw the first of the month in the wrong weekday column, will the pen assume I meant a different year, or will it just bomb out with some unuseful error, forcing me to get out another sheet of "special" ie. expensive paper?

I see very limited uses for this technology, because it seems to remove one of the most useful aspects of computing, the ability to quickly organize and reference pre-existing information. If this was transformable into a PDA type application, I'd say it was a revolutionary technology product. But if I have to write out someone's name to look them up in my PIM, then it limits me to only storing names I will remember, which is sort of self-defeating.

Yes, I imagine you could shift it into a search mode, and just start writing the first letters of a name, but who wants to listen through a list of all of the people who's last name begins with the letter "S"? And, the ability to search off of other indexes will require more special "jotting" of search criteria which won't be in a natural language, and will be limited by the voice interface playback.

And we haven't even started on the noise pollution issues. A room of these things talking would allow eavesdropping, distract you from you're pen's output, etc.

Re:Yeah, _THIS_ looks valuable (1)

a_nonamiss (743253) | about 9 years ago | (#13388051)

If you think that's bad, just imaging trying to use the thing to surf the Internet for porn...

Re:Yeah, _THIS_ looks valuable (1)

rizole (666389) | about 9 years ago | (#13388085)

I have a better gadget that requires only ordinary paper and an ordinary pen.
The way it works is that I write the calculation down on the paper and then using the power of thinking and the standard mathematical notation that I learnt at school, I perform the calculation.

In this way I can add, divide, multiply and subtract. If I'm feeling brave I can do simple equations where one or more variables are unknown and if I really push myself I can even do simple calculations in my head.

I'm not so old that I didn't have a calc at school but a calc is just another tool like a pencil. I think my point is that people seem to want to invent any number of technological solutions to the problem of learning. Technology cannot solve the problem of learning. Only making an effort to learn can solve the problem of learning.

The only advantage of this pen is that it might make learning a bit more fun for those that like playing with gadgets and hence engage those kids that might not be engaged in other ways.

And as I'm feeling a bit ranty today, it seems to me that a lot of people think that technology is a solution to what ever problem is out there (E.G. Biometrics, I.D. cards et al as a sloution to terrorism {don't get me started}). Surely technology can only ever be a tool or a useful approach. Technology solves nothing. People solve stuff. Stop throwing pretty (but essentially useless) gadgets at our kids. Stop making them consumers before they can think for them selves. ----- What good is science if you don't use it for evil? Come on, more evil science please.

Re:Yeah, _THIS_ looks valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13388843)

Stop throwing pretty (but essentially useless) gadgets at our kids. Stop making them consumers before they can think for them selves. What good is science if you don't use it for evil? Come on, more evil science please.

Isn't turning innocent little lambs, full of spirit and potential, into parasitic consumers hooked on the hollowness of technovanity evil enough for you?

Re:Yeah, _THIS_ looks valuable (1)

srleffler (721400) | about 9 years ago | (#13388653)

Not to mention that there is a way better way to implement a calculator with a pen computer: Just have the thing give the answer to any mathematical expression you write, so if you write "5+3=" the pen would say "eight". There is no need to draw a calculator to do math, and kids would learn more from writing expressions. This seems like a lost opportunity.

Leapfrog miss the possible usefullness? (2, Interesting)

jhoegl (638955) | about 9 years ago | (#13387699)

This pen could be better utilized as a utility for the disabled, the blind could use it to learn how to write, could they not? Or it could be used as a tool to help the learning disabled.

Website (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387724)

Those guys have some pretty badass website, check it out: http://www.liveonthefly.com/ [liveonthefly.com]

Re:Webshite (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13388017)

Yeah, shucks big time. But at least when it tells you that you're not welcome, it does so in a much cuter way than other similar shites ;-)

kids are kids... (1)

moviepig.com (745183) | about 9 years ago | (#13387727)

...a talking computer hidden within a pen the size of an electric toothbrush ... aimed at 9-14 year-olds who can use it as a calculator, a calendar, to create and record music, and to play logic and geography games...

...and to aim at other 9-14 year-olds...

yeahh... but... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387735)

Yeahh... but does it run Linux?

Re:yeahh... but... (1)

NotFamous (827147) | about 9 years ago | (#13388887)

Yeahh... but does it run Linux?

NetBSD was ported to the device, but the project was scrapped due to the difficulty of teaching kids 9-14 how to write out the slice/partitioning stuff. Theo rejected it for OpenBSD due to possible buffer overflows with the ink mechanism.

Pen learning toy from 1980's (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387737)

there was a learning toy that consisted of an electronic pen, which you would press the tip to the pages of special work books made for it, and it would beep and light up to indicate if the answer was right or wrong. The "pen" was pretty large and bulky, and it was a black color. Does anyone remember what the name of it was?

Re:Pen learning toy from 1980's (1, Informative)

a.deity (665042) | about 9 years ago | (#13387850)

Questron. I loved that thing.

Get Smart! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387749)

And what's next, a talking shoe?

Nothing a self-respecting spy would use, but it might make a good Police Inspector Gadget.

Re:Get Smart! (2, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 9 years ago | (#13388024)

And what's next, a talking shoe?

Of course, the shoe would only talk when walking over a specially marked carpet...

normal paper (3, Insightful)

LosManos (538072) | about 9 years ago | (#13387762)

hejdig.

Remove the neccessity for special paper (with an accelerometer or some fancy triangulating gadget) and increase its computing power by connecting it to a computer or PDA (by bluetooth) and you might have something. I am not sure exactly what but something.

For instance have the pen somehow buzz which way to draw a line and it/you could make up a new interface on the fly.

I have tried digital whiteboard and wacom board and these solve other problems. If someone figures out how to put these solutions together into yet another solution we might have a cool thing.

/OF

Re:normal paper (1)

nietsch (112711) | about 9 years ago | (#13387824)

Yes that struck me too. They are trying to pull the inktjet trick. Why should this paper have invisible dots? Why can't it use lined or grid paper.
Why does it need special paper at all? My optical mouse can certainly follow my hand movements just fine.

And aside from that, the concept looks interesting, but i cannot see this becoming the killer gadget of 2005. You need to draw your own interfaces before you can use them. When programmers make them they already look shitty, what happens when endusers have to create them. That will certainly not be an OSX-like experience.

Re:normal paper (1)

LosManos (538072) | about 9 years ago | (#13387887)

hejdig.

Experimentation with this should be easy. Use a Wacom board and replace the tip with a tip from an ordinary pen /crayon/pencil/whatever. Put a sheet of paper on the wacom board and start hacking in your favourite language.

Not a perfect solution but an easy way to try it out.

/OF

Re:normal paper (1)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | about 9 years ago | (#13387921)

My optical mouse can certainly follow my hand movements just fine

Don't know about you, but my optical mouse tracking is quite poor on plain white paper. Maybe this is (partly) why they needed invisible markers. Obviously, the fact they can charge a premium for the stuff is an added bonus (for them). Hmm... I wonder how long it will be before someone tries to undercut them, as happened with Epson's ink?

Another option, I suppose, is to get some of this paper and laminate it, so that you can wipe it clean and use it again :-)

Special paper? Smells like IP licensing :) (4, Interesting)

Emil Brink (69213) | about 9 years ago | (#13387779)

I bet it's based on technology from Anoto [anoto.com] . The whole thing sounds very much like what their technology [anotofunctionality.com] is said to be capable of, and the "special paper" is very much in line as well. Cool application, but it does sound rather annoying, heh.

Re:Special paper? Smells like IP licensing :) (1)

Fredrik Leijon (609309) | about 9 years ago | (#13387904)

It is based on the Anoto technology

Terrible joke time! (5, Funny)

SFA_AOK (752620) | about 9 years ago | (#13387787)

I guess it's powered by a PEN-tium?

...

I'll get my coat.

Re:Terrible joke time! (1)

alexhs (877055) | about 9 years ago | (#13387853)

Pentop - Pentium

I think it's time for another lawsuit about the misuse of a brand name registered by Intel.

I mean, there have been lawsuits (or attempts) for less than that, like "wxWindows", "lindows", "mike rowe soft"...

Re:Terrible joke time! (1)

CoolQ (31072) | about 9 years ago | (#13388896)

I must be really tired... I thought the headline was:

New 'Pentium' Computer To Help Children Learn

and I thought... nah, it won't help kids learn.

--Quentin

Well... (5, Funny)

mangus_angus (873781) | about 9 years ago | (#13387789)

judging by the number of 9-14 year-olds that told me how bad they "pwnd my n00b ass" at Counter Strike last night, something tells me they are beyond this.

Easter Eggs (2, Interesting)

Fleetie (603229) | about 9 years ago | (#13387806)

I wonder how many "Easter Eggs" are hidden in this baby's handwriting / command recognition system.

Like:

"Tell me a rude joke"
"Fart!"
etc.

If I were a programmer devloping that thing, I'd find it hard to resist sticking a few in!

Debugging mode? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387937)

That would be a very interesting feature. Way back wne I played Sonic for the Sega Genesis, I was very intrigued by the debug features in those games. They even allowed you to place any game sprite you wanted on the board, and it had a "no clipping" feature. yeah, it wasn't much more than a toy, but it was cool being able to set up your own traps and
modify various areas in the game, and see all the really weird stuff hidden off the normal map in Sonic 3.

Shiny talking pen is cool! (1, Funny)

elgatozorbas (783538) | about 9 years ago | (#13387848)

RED RUM!

RED RUM!!!

This kind of new technology... (1)

yoris (776276) | about 9 years ago | (#13387902)

only catches on when the porn industry starts supporting it. hmm... okay, maybe it's not their target audience

Re:This kind of new technology... (1)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | about 9 years ago | (#13387943)

It'll never work: wipe-clean paper would decimate their revenue.

Spell Checker (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | about 9 years ago | (#13388063)

Imagine a version that had a built in spell checker - you start writing then suddenly the pen takes over, your hand is mysteriously guided back to the start of the current word, you are powerless to resist as the pen forces you to strike a line through the word and then places you underneath the excision. Despite your writhing, your hand takes on a mind of its own and slowly and neatly traces out the letters r-e-c-e-i-v-e-d

Re:Spell Checker (1)

ytm (892332) | about 9 years ago | (#13388122)

Creepy. The next thing that pen might do with my hand is to poke into my eye or try to strangle me, like Dr. Strangelove's hand: http://imdb.com/title/tt0057012/ [imdb.com] .

why spend $99 on something (2, Interesting)

bLindmOnkey (744643) | about 9 years ago | (#13388077)

that will get lost very easily and run out of battery even quicker when you can buy a good old fashioned everything that it can do for less? The target age is 9-14 but by the time I was 12 any pen larger than the deluxe BIC one with a rubber grip was already too phony for us "teenagers". I highly doubt anyone older than the age of 11 would really want a $99 penputer to show off in english class. The games will probably get really boring really quickly and the pen will loose its snazz.

The point is, technology has only become a necesity of life because we've made it one, but notime soon will kids be behind technology for not owning a little expensive leapfrog pen. I tried organizing life on a palm pilot once in middle school only to realize it was horribly inconvenient. An expensive pen that doesn't have half the functionality of a palm pilot wouldn't be any different.

hejdig.? (0)

nuggetman (242645) | about 9 years ago | (#13388093)

who wants to enlighten me

custom paper job. (0, Redundant)

torpor (458) | about 9 years ago | (#13388146)

okay, razor, blade, which do we sell the most to get the most profit from?

oh, i know: CUSTOM PAPER!?!?!

screw it. if you have to have custom paper to use this pen, why do you have to do circle-M to get to the menu? can't they just print a 'menu button' on the paper, and have you tap it to get the goods?

pass. no thanks.

Kids (1)

Remlik (654872) | about 9 years ago | (#13388224)

Great! Pretty soon parents won't ever have to interact with their children, a talking computer will do it all for them!

My wife is 8 months pregnant and has arranged her life and job to allow her to stay home with the child and then work part time as a nanny and bring the child with her.

Why the hell would anyone just toss a talking pen at a kid and leave them be? Why not instead sit down with them and HELP them learn. Computers don't help anyone learn anything. They are merely a delivery device.

I'm a Sys Admin, I have 4 computers in my home, my child won't have his or her own computer until Highschool at best. Learning tool my ass, the only they help you learn is how to download music and pr0n.

Re:Kids (2, Insightful)

MrCopilot (871878) | about 9 years ago | (#13389009)

"I'm a Sys Admin, I have 4 computers in my home, my child won't have his or her own computer until Highschool at best. Learning tool my ass, the only they help you learn is how to download music and pr0n."

As a sysAdmin, I know you have a dim view of users, but think of it in the terms Why not instead sit down with them and HELP them learn. to be responsible, educated users. There are responsible places your kids can download music. Open frank discussions about pornography and your ability to see every packet & who requested it are enough to curb the porn.

But more importantly, The computer with the correct software can for example, repeat spanish verbs, forever, without getting frustrated at your child. It also has the instant access (that you enjoy) to a vast collection of information, that takes experience to learn how to sift for what you want. Your children will be at a disadvantage to mine, when book reports, science fair, history homework,term papers are due.

I'm not going to lie, It takes a fair amount of police work, nothing you aren't already used to. 2 26yr Olds, No PC in the bedroom. I have to lock the PC's up until chores and homework are done. Check the Router occasionally, Bring ANY unwanted activity to their attention. If they know they are watched they are much better behaved.

I agree, unfettered access can be damaging. However the benefits far outweigh the negatives. If you wait until High School, you won't be able to "teach" them anything. The two boys didn't have PC's until maybe 10 or 12. My 8 yr old, learned to read, spell, do arithmetic and Art, all before PreSchool. It never occurs to her to go anywhere I would find questionable, Except those damn Scientolgist NeoPets (like KidCrack). She is in her 3rd yr of Gifted Student Program. She is very intelligent, but more importantly she knows how to find answers when she needs them. As a side effect she loves to READ, never was a chore, just came naturally to her because of so many hour of Reader Rabbit, Sam and MAX, Math Journey. She also loves the outdoors and sports and (shudder) Video Games.

The Computer is a teaching tool, just like textbooks, chalkboards, construction paper. How you use them determines their effectiveness. You "can" draw pornography on the blackboard, but most kids are taught to behave in class. My kids were taught how to behave in the Virtual World as well.

Re:Kids (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | about 9 years ago | (#13389076)

26yr Olds, No PC in the bedroom. I have to lock the PC's up until chores and....

Damn, That should read: 2 16yr olds.
Locking away a 26yr olds computer, that's not right. /KMeany

In addition, I think this PEN thing is being applied to the wrong market. Seems more suited to an engineering/FootBall-Basketball Coach/Graphic Artist market.
Thats a big market, Football Engineer Artists, two moved in next door to me. As an Input device I'm with ya. But as a toy or learning device, not so much.

I'm surprised (2, Funny)

kurbchekt (890891) | about 9 years ago | (#13388271)

No one have a link of the NetBSD port for this thing yet?

OMG this will fail.. I have a better idea (2, Interesting)

brxndxn (461473) | about 9 years ago | (#13388277)

Instead of charging $99 for a stupid talking device that doesn't even have a screen, and then having it compete against their Gameboy SP's and PSP's, how about develop some software for their portable devices.

Like.. put some educational interactive software on a PSP UMD disk. Make it so the kid has to get to certain levels in his educational software in order for him to 'earn' PSP time to play his games.

The idea of some $99 device that 9-14yo's will talk to annoys the hell out of me. When the fvck can a 9-14yo kid talk aloud and separate himself from friends, school, and family comotion?

Seriously.. the PSP and the Gameboy SP are two of the most ultimate devices that could be used for teaching... Instead, that aspect is completely ignored. Kids carry those things around.. They play them more than the parents control. How about some software that at least makes it so the kid has to spend a third of his time learning to spell or something.

Isnt this out already? (0)

dmorin (25609) | about 9 years ago | (#13388339)

Geez, I was making fun of this thing back in January [morinfamily.com] . I'm used to seeing stories on Slashdot 3 days or so after they break, but 8 months is a little long.

Re:Isnt this out already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13388876)

Slashdot was there [slashdot.org] the same day. Maybe the company'll "launch" it again in another eight months.

obligatory comments (2, Funny)

kc0re (739168) | about 9 years ago | (#13388376)

A) Yes, but can it run Linux?
B) Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of pens!!!

zoolander (1)

milimetric (840694) | about 9 years ago | (#13388465)

What the hell is this? A computer for ANTS??? How do you expect Children to fit in this thing? It would have to be at LEAST 3 times the size!!!

Technology Overrated (3, Insightful)

szfsoft (909855) | about 9 years ago | (#13388515)

I am a big supporter of technology in our school systems - it only makes sense to acquaint kids - to some degree- with what technology is available. However, as per useless technology like this: the focus needs to be taken AWAY from trying to substitute real teaching with toys like this. Plus it's expensive and I wouldn't want my kid taking a $99 pen to school - When I was that age it was hard to keep track of a pencil.

Re:Technology Overrated (1)

Penguin Programmer (241752) | about 9 years ago | (#13389148)

100% agreed!

The people involved in our education systems seem to have missed the point of having computers in the classroom. It's stupid and counter-productive to try and teach regular subjects using the computer. Even if you find an effective way to do it, it's just going to make kids think that they can't do it without the computer and that'll screw them royally when they get to college and are told they can't use calculators for their math classes. Rather, we should be teaching kids how to USE the computers properly to help them with their regular work. There are so many people today who could do about 300% more work every day if they knew how to make and use a spreadsheet (I do IT for a paving company so I've seen this first hand). I just hope that in 20 or 30 years, when the work world is full of people who grew up with a computer in every classroom, this has changed and people are able to use computers effectively. The only way this will happen is if we start teaching kids to be computer literate at an early age.

with more electronic toys (1, Troll)

night_flyer (453866) | about 9 years ago | (#13388638)

there is less learning being achieved.

before the advent of electronics children learned a lot more than they are learning now, all these electronic gizmos, computers included, are nothing more than a distraction. look at the quality of education in the last 20 years. teachers are using these items as a crutch, its time to go back to the basics

Yes, but what does it teach? (2, Interesting)

panurge (573432) | about 9 years ago | (#13388665)

From the article, I have the impression that to get anything out of it, you need good manual pen manipulation skills and the ability to write clearly. The problem looks like it is probably too big for the target audience- I would hate to have to write with an electric toothbrush size pen, and I have normal size hands.

If this thing could work so as to encourage children who cannot be bothered to learn to write clearly or draw even simple lines, it could actually be useful at one stage of development. Anyone who thinks to ask for hand-written applications for jobs nowadays will realise that many people cannot write properly, and there are still places where this is essential. Those of us who were educated before progressive education will remember how we were forced to learn to write letters and numbers clearly, use rulers and compasses etc.(and how long it took) Nowadays forcing children does not seem to be an option, but the simple ability to write does not motivate them to learn unless they have very involved parents. So, given the number of parents who are too busy or cannot be bothered, perhaps this thing or a derivative has a place.

I think a little Mitch Hedberg is in order... (1)

dividedsky319 (907852) | about 9 years ago | (#13388781)

[i]I bought a seven-dollar pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring.[/i] - Mitch Hedberg (RIP)

Re:I think a little Mitch Hedberg is in order... (1)

dividedsky319 (907852) | about 9 years ago | (#13388805)

Bah. Something that could have been funny, slightly ruined due to my thinking I was on another board, and my impatience to click the preview button!

Oh, THAT kind of pen ... (1)

eck011219 (851729) | about 9 years ago | (#13389107)

How can they use a pentop computer from inside the pen? Something about this doesn't make sense.

Meanwhile at RIAA HQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13389146)

PENS? You mean like friggin Bics?!?! What - it's not enough we gotta worry about computers and cell phones - friggin' PENS now! What's next, toilet rolls?

Jack! Get our lobbyists on pen DRM right away!! With any luck we'll have a bill pushed thru by 6!!
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