Kano, the modular Raspberry Pi powered DIY computer that ‘anyone can make’


We’re loving this. Kickstarter-backed Raspberry Pi-project Kano is the latest open-source computing project to make us want to reach into our wallets and back. Developed in part by founders Alex Klein and Yonatan Raz-Fridman, Kano is a the US$99 (targeted price) Raspberry Pi PC that “anyone can build”. For once, a slogan is more than mere marketing. With an emphasis on demystifying the oft complex process of building a computer, Kano apparently succeeds. And fully-working computer can be assembled in under five minutes.

Time is sped up, but Kano looks like a breeze to snap together

It all looks very “fun” and “friendly” which for a computer and coding kit in one, used to be a monumental task. Raspberry Pi has made a modder out of everyone, but Kano represents something more: an inventive learning tool that reopens that creaking door called edutainment.

Kano 3

User-friendly is the key

Kano comes in a little kit that includes the Raspberry Pi Model B, DIY speakers, the Kano Keyboard Combo, plus stickers and stencils (oh my). Kano really is aimed at the little generation, the youth who want to jam their foot into the aforementioned creaking door. It all runs off Kano OS, a Debian Linux distro where Kano Blocks — Kano’s propriety programming — lives and breathes. Heck, you can even meddle with Minecraft if you like. It’s drag-and-drop programming, and we like the look of it.

This breezy little startup also includes a book filled with projects to complete. Kano is keeping it simple and playful by providing an almost storybook-like quality to its book of projects. Summing up the ethos behind Kano is easy, because the Kickstarter page does it for us: “Kano emerged from a year of making computers with hundreds of kids, teachers, engineers, and artists. It’s based on simple steps, physical computing, and play.” Simple steps, fun, playing. Words rarely used in the creation of a PC from scratch. Kano sets out to do the impossible and what remains, however improbable, is this micro PC we see before us (with thanks to Sherlock Holmes for that quote, kind of).

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A page from the Kano manual

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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