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Here's where you'll find all the latest news about technology for children. We love to follow cool new inventions on Kickstarter and we hunt out all the latest announcements about tech toys and gadgets for the coming Christmas holidays. You'll also get our take on children's technology stories in the media.

REVIEWS$show=/search/label/review

Our kids technology product reviews are intended to help you work out whether a toy, gadget or kit is a good fit for your child or family. There's lots of cool stuff available, but is it the right choice for the child or teenager that you are buying for? We'll help you make the right choices and get the best value for money.

GIFT GUIDES$show=/search/label/gift%20guide

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends assemble. We create gift lists to help you make good choices for kids technology which helps them develop the right skills for the future. We research the best in Coding Toys and Games, Making / Craft Tools and Kits, STEM/STEAM related gifts, Programmable Robots, Electronics Kits and Gadgets for Tech Age Kids and Teens.

PROJECTS$show=/search/label/project

Get crafty with technology. Here we'll post all our ideas and projects using technology to get creative and making with kids. You'll find anything from making a lemon battery to a glow-in-the-dark Minecraft sword. Our projects are tried and tested on our own kids or at events we run, so we are sure you can have a go at home with your kids. Some of our projects use specific tech gadgets which we provide links for you to purchase.

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STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In recent years there is an increased focus in these areas of study. We like to include Art and Design too, so we often talk about STEAM (A stands for Art). At Tech Age Kids we believe Coding is a new literacy and children need to understand how technology works, practice making skills and grow in their curiosity to make a better future for us all.

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Coding is increasingly being recognised as an important skill for children to learn. Some will learn to code at school or at a coding club, but it's brilliant if they get support at home too.

ELECTRONICS$show=/search/label/electronics

We think it's really important for kids to get hands-on with electronics and learn how to make circuits and write code to control hardware. Younger kids can start with conductive playdough. For kids who like to combine craft and tech, littleBits are fab. And we love SAM Labs wireless electronics components for making it easy for kids to make Internet of Things inventions. Lots of electronics kits for kids have support for the Arduino microprocessor environment. The DuinoKit Jr is one of our favourites. Arduino is a fab skill for older kids and teens to develop.

ROBOTICS$show=/search/label/robotics

We love robots at Tech Age Kids, especially programmable ones. We've got lots of them and write reviews and projects that use them. Our programmable robots for kids buying guide is a good place to start if you're not sure what's available. Roby the mBot Meccano robot dog is one of our popular projects and has been with us to lots of events. Our Ozobot LEGO trailer is fab for kids who love LEGO and robots.

MAKING AND CRAFT$show=/search/label/making

We're advocates of the creative use of technology, but this needs to be balanced with developing physical skills such as papercraft, woodwork, clay modelling, technical drawing and soldering. If children don't develop these skills as they grow up then physical making projects can become frustrating rather than fun. The Maker Community uses the term 'making' as a broad term to include all sorts of artisan skills or craft activities. Being able to make things can lead to life-long hobbies or even careers. It's a great feeling to be able to take a project from an idea in your head to a real object that does something. We're particularly interested to explore products that combine maker skills with tech skills such as electronics but others focus purely on the physical making skills that are still important to modern making.

Meet Line-us: The Drawing Robot Arm


We were very excited last week when we received our Kickstarter reward - Line-us the drawing robot arm. We backed the campaign of designer and engineering team, Durrell Bishop and Robert Poll in March 2017 and patiently followed their journey.

Yepp, sometimes these projects take a long time to materialise, but it takes a lot of work to make a new product! (Check out the guide to backing crowdfunding campaigns.)

Line-us is a little robot drawing arm that you can use to play, draw and tinker!

What's in the box?

The Line-us drawing machine comes in a plastic box for easy storage and carrying around. It's small enough to fit in a handbag/backpack to take to a friend's house.



The drawing machine comes with a USB cable but you need to add the power source. The easiest option is to use a powerbank to power the drawing machine. We have one with suckers, which is convenient for vertical placements on Line-us.

You also get a metal plate which helps to keep the drawing arm stable whilst it is drawing. There are strong magnets on the underside of the machine so it can be attached vertically to a metal whiteboard or fridge.

The arm attachment can fit a number of different drawing tools, like pencils, pens, sharpies and even paintbrushes.

There's no assembly required and Line-us is ready to use straight out the box - after you've downloaded an app AND connected it to the WiFi.


Connecting the WiFi


At first, we really struggled to connect Line-us to the WiFi but then discovered Line-us only works with our 2.4GHz WiFi connection (we also have 5GHz). The app and Line-Us need to be connected to the 2.4GHz WiFi connection.

Once we established the connection it has worked ever since.

Line-us Drawing App

The drawing arm works via a simple drawing app which connects to Line-us via a WiFi connection. The app is available for iOS and Andriod devices and from the Mac and Windows App stores. We used Line-us with our iPad Air 2 and my son's Dell Inspiron touchscreen laptop via the Windows App.



The Windows App on the touchscreen laptop worked great. It also meant the kids could get on with using Line-us without having to use my iPad.

I created an account and used the same account for both apps. This meant the drawings sync'ed across the devices. We could also print from the laptop and then the iPad seamlessly.


It's not the best drawing app, but then they have just launched and there is lots of scope for improvement. I think it would be easier to draw more detailed drawings with a digital pen on a tablet.

My kids have quite a lot of experience using drawing apps but they didn't find the drawing part of the Line-us app as intuitive.

There are a few quirks.

Once you've send the drawing and stop mid-way, the robot will start drawing from the beginning. Alternatively you could pause the drawing, however my kids kept stopping it instead of pausing.

You can also not add to your drawing once the robot has finished drawing it. When you press 'play' the robot draws everything again.

There's a merge layer which allows you to concentrate on one area, but when you merge the layer you can't 'unmerge' it.

Definitely, use the 'set pen height' function before you start drawing to get the best results. When Line-us is not drawing the pen nib should not be touching the paper!

The app also allows you to take a picture and then you can draw over it. Line-us will only draw the lines, you've drawn and not the photo!

Drawing Fun


I love that Line-us is just a fun little robot that makes pretty things. Robots are mostly used for useful things or to make a task easier or quicker, but Line-us has a slightly different purpose.

It's actually really fun watching the robot arm draw! The kids have loved playing with Line-us and confidently use the app and setup the machine to enjoy some creative screentime. They even got their friends involved on a playdate.

I created a 'book' in the app for each child so they can keep their drawings together.

You can also draw other people's drawing that have been shared in the app. My kids really liked this idea of seeing a drawing come to life in our home, that someone else drew!

Drawing Factory

When you create an account you can save your drawings and then draw them again and again and again. The robot arm introduces the concept of robots doing the work. So if you want to send out 10 party invitations with an illustration you've hand-drawn - a robot arm becomes useful.

You can change the size of your drawing and by repositioning the arm you could make a cool pattern for a notebook cover or wrapping paper.

A robot drawing arm is also very useful when you've written a book with someone else and you don't see each other in person regularly enough to sign books for customers.  We've used Line-us to help sign microbit in Wonderland and think it's a very quirky way of getting the job done. Thanks Line-us!



Games and Programming

Line-us could also be used to design modern versions of games, like Pictionary. Can your team member guess what you drew in the app, before Line-us finishes the drawing? Use a timer and decide on a point system and you have a fun party game to share with friends or after a dinner party.

We were originally attracted to Line-us in the Kickstarter as they said you'd be able to code the robot drawing arm using Scratch. So far there's documentation available for an API guide and python programming. We'll explore this in another post.

Verdict

So far we've enjoyed using Line-us. It's compact and once set up on the WiFi, really easy to use. The kids have enjoyed seeing their drawings come to life. The drawings are not perfect, but that is what makes Line-us fun. It's also great for experimenting. We've tried different pens and nib sizes and drawing with Line-us in the horizontal and vertical position.

It's been fun seeing this little robot drawing arm come to life, through the Kickstarter campaign and we will continue to follow it's development.

Line-us will be available from the Line-us online shop.




Also see other drawing machines:


Name

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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Meet Line-us: The Drawing Robot Arm
Meet Line-us: The Drawing Robot Arm
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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children
https://www.techagekids.com/2018/02/meet-line-us-drawing-robot-arm.html
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