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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.

STEM$show=/search/label/stem

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.

CODING$show=/search/label/coding

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.

Get Started with eTextiles - eFashion, Wearable Electronics & Wearable Computers


eTextiles, wearable technology, and smart fabrics are still very much in its infancy in terms of mainstream use and a general understanding of what it is.

I recently hosted a workshop to introduce the idea of sewing with electronics. We had a fantastic round table discussion about the future of eTextiles and then made a really simple cuff (fabric bracelet) using a LED, conductive thread and a switch (press-stud) to switch the light on and off.

I thought it would be interesting to share our discussion as food for thought.

What is eTextiles?


In real simple terms, eTextiles are fabrics that allow the application of digital components. They are sometimes also called smart fabrics. Electronic components can either be woven into the fabric or applied on top. In our workshop we used 'traditional' fabric and sewed conductive thread into the fabric to conduct electricity to power the digital components (LED).

There are a number of uses for eTextiles and today we see them used in the medical, military and sports industries. There is also a lot of examples of eTextiles and digital wearables used in entertainment.

eTextiles is part of wearable technology. Wearables, as it is sometimes called, include gadgets and computers that a person can wear. We already know many such devices, such as digital hearing aids, smartphones, fitness trackers, panic buttons, fall monitors, and more.


The Right Skills

There is actually a lot of skills involved in designing and working with eTextiles and wearables. You need to understand electronics, coding, fabrics, design and the subject of the application of the eTextile project.

We need a variety of different people to take an interest in the development of wearable tech, so that we have a future of warm, welcoming and well-designed solutions and not a world of cold, hard electronics!

Here are some examples of eTextile and wearable tech in fashion in recent years:


If you're interested in this field, you can start from any direction and continue to add to your skills. Learn to sew, learn about electronics, learn to code, learn about ergonomic design (design fit for the human body) One of my pet hates (someone please solve this problem) are smartwatches for children. They all seem to be too big and lack functionality. My child doesn't want to play games on his watch, he wants something that will tell the time, count his steps, be an alarm AND be small enough to fit his arm and robust enough to withstand outdoor play.

Get Started

There are some good products on the market to get you started.

Electronics

We are big fans of Teknikio, that develops cute circuit boards which you can sew onto fabric and into projects.

Our fabric cuff for the eTextiles workshop was made with Teknikio components. You can just focus on the electronics part and then add a microcontroller later for coding. The Sensors and Spaces kit from Teknikio also introduces you to sensors to interact with the world around you.



Helen Leigh has also written a book about electronics for Craft kids, The Crafty Kids Guide to DIY Electronics: 20 Fun Projects for Makers, Crafters, and Everyone in Between; although I think it is fairly accessible to any beginner to the field of electronics.




We created a simple tapestry project to teach you how to sew LEDs in parallel.

Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers are small programmable computers and perfect for experimenting with wearables.

Lilypad Arduino was the first commercially available development platform for sewable electronics. It was developed by a group of engineers from MIT headed by Leah Buechley is an Associate Professor at the MIT Media Lab. Lilypad uses the Arduino platform and there are different components and kits available.




The micro:bit is a great microcontroller to use too. As you can code it using code blocks, the leap to text-based coding is less and you can concentrate on learning the concepts rather than the coding syntax. Our micro:bit in Wonderland book include several projects that links sewing, electronics and coding.




I hope this has inspired some to explore eTextiles further and get started with sewing with electronics.

I will write up the project from the workshop and share here soon.





Name

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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Get Started with eTextiles - eFashion, Wearable Electronics & Wearable Computers
Get Started with eTextiles - eFashion, Wearable Electronics & Wearable Computers
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