8 Educational STEM Toys for Kids at CES 2017

STEM Toys

CES 2017, the annual technology trade show in Las Vegas, emphasized how ubiquitous robots and artificially intelligent devices will become integrated into our lives over the next decade. The demand for engineers, programmers, and technology experts to keep devices and platforms safe from hacking will continue to increase.

That said, it’s never too early to get tech into the little hands of kids, to prepare them for a technologically encompassed world. This year’s CES featured STEM toys from around the world; perfect for introducing children to concepts in programming and engineering. Take a look through the gallery, to see some of the best STEM toys f0r kids of all ages and skill levels that were featured at CES.

 

1. Ablix Robot STEM Kits

 

Image: Black Enterprise (Image: Black Enterprise)

 

Ablix’s kits helps kids learn about project structural building, touch sensors, temperature sensors, magnetic sensors, multisensor integrated applications, program debugging, and more. Inside the kit is a project building manual and CD with a curriculum, software, programs, and videos.


2. Circuit Cubes

 

Image: Black Enterprise (Image: Black Enterprise)

 

Designed by engineers with their own kids in mind, Circuit Cubes are electronic building blocks that add sound, motion, light, and sensors to young makers’ creations. An added plus is that they also work with Legos.


3. CoDrone

 

Image: Black Enterprise Image: Black Enterprise

 

CoDrone is a portmanteau for “coding” and “drone.” Created by Robolink, the company’s mission is to make STEM education fun and accessible. What can be a more fun way of learning to code than with a drone you can also fly?


4. Domgy

 



Roobo’s adorable Domgy robot makes a great companion for children and is a way to introduce kids to robots. Domgy plays music, can navigate itself indoors, performs facial recognition, along with a host of other features.


5. Edwin the Duck

 



Edwin may be the world’s first IoT rubber ducky. Edwin connects with his accompanying app to play soothing, nighttime sounds to help kids go to sleep, and it helps children learn through songs and educational games. Edwin also functions as a real, traditional rubber ducky because he’s waterproof. Additionally, the non-toxic material makes Edwin a good toy for teething.


6. Makeblock

 

Image: Black Enterprise (Image: Black Enterprise)

 

Makeblock offers Arduino-based, STEM,  robotics building kits that can be programmed with the Scratch language. There are kits available for those new to robotics and programming, and for those who are more advanced. Makeblock’s kits are used as actual classroom teaching tools.


7. Square Panda

 

Image: Black Enterprise (Image: Black Enterprise)

 

Square Panda turns an iPad into “a multisensory phonics learning system.” With Square Panda and the iPad, kids have interactive phonics learning games and a Bluetooth play set, with actual colorful letters kids can pick up and match with objects on the screen.


8. Zyrobotics Zumo Learning System

 

Image: Black Enterprise (Image: Black Enterprise)

 

Zyrobotics is a startup co-founded by Dr. Ayanna Howard, an African American, female roboticist, who has worked with NASA. The Zumo Learning System includes a tablet, math games, and a wireless smart toy named Zumo. The apps are designed for kids from kindergarten to third grade.

 

 

Farewell Facebook: Bärí A. Williams Joins StubHub

StubHub

We first introduced Bärí A. Williams, Esq., to BlackEnterprise.com approximately a year ago, in the article Paving Your Road to Silicon Valley.

In an interview with Dr. Atira Charles, Bärí shared some of the many “hats” she transitions between daily as an attorney, wife, mother, daughter, community servant, a proponent of diversity, Regional Ambassador of BEtechThinkful, and a sports fanatic— yes, she is a fan of the Golden State Warriors.  Her professional works as a rising talent in tech eventually led to her ability to make amazing strides at one of the big-three corporations in Silicon Valley: Facebook.

However, beginning Wednesday, December 21, 2016, the culmination of all of Bärí’s professional experience— developing the supplier diversity network, overseeing purchasing and procurement globally, and negotiation of Facebook’s internet.org contract for the solar powered airplane drone Aquila, to name a few—will propel her to a new position as head of Business Operations, North America, at StubHub, an eBay company.

In this role, Bärí will work directly with Stubhub’s President Scott Cutler, COO Joseph Asaro, and General Manager of North America Perkins Miller, assisting with day-to-day responsibilities, including product marketing strategy as well as mergers and acquisitions integration (M&A), which includes developing strategic partnerships with critical business partners to review, set, and execute budget requirements within the realm of managing costs after reviewing budgets.

Well, Dinah Washington was so accurate when she said, “What a difference a day made.” Although it wasn’t in “24 little hours,” #techies around the world were ecstatic to know that diversity in tech, especially in Silicon Valley , is occurring daily—and the difference is evident in Bärí’s professional ascension.

Learn more about Bärí A. Williams, Esq., on LinkedIn @bariawilliams.

Farewell Facebook: Bärí A. Williams Joins StubHub

StubHub

We first introduced Bärí A. Williams, Esq., to BlackEnterprise.com approximately a year ago, in the article Paving Your Road to Silicon Valley.

In an interview with Dr. Atira Charles, Bärí shared some of the many “hats” she transitions between daily as an attorney, wife, mother, daughter, community servant, a proponent of diversity, Regional Ambassador of BEtechThinkful, and a sports fanatic— yes, she is a fan of the Golden State Warriors.  Her professional works as a rising talent in tech eventually led to her ability to make amazing strides at one of the big-three corporations in Silicon Valley: Facebook.

However, beginning Wednesday, December 21, 2016, the culmination of all of Bärí’s professional experience— developing the supplier diversity network, overseeing purchasing and procurement globally, and negotiation of Facebook’s internet.org contract for the solar powered airplane drone Aquila, to name a few—will propel her to a new position as head of Business Operations, North America, at StubHub, an eBay company.

In this role, Bärí will work directly with Stubhub’s President Scott Cutler, COO Joseph Asaro, and General Manager of North America Perkins Miller, assisting with day-to-day responsibilities, including product marketing strategy as well as mergers and acquisitions integration (M&A), which includes developing strategic partnerships with critical business partners to review, set, and execute budget requirements within the realm of managing costs after reviewing budgets.

Well, Dinah Washington was so accurate when she said, “What a difference a day made.” Although it wasn’t in “24 little hours,” #techies around the world were ecstatic to know that diversity in tech, especially in Silicon Valley , is occurring daily—and the difference is evident in Bärí’s professional ascension.

Learn more about Bärí A. Williams, Esq., on LinkedIn @bariawilliams.

All I Want for Xmas is a Bionic Bird Drone

Bionic Bird

It’s a huge step up from the days of 10-cent wooden gliders. A French startup has released the Bionic Bird—a drone that actually looks like a bird in flight.

The drone is built from the concept of biomimicry. This is an engineering design inspired by living things. According to the manufacturer, Bionic Bird “mimics the majestic soaring of an eagle as well as the dynamic flapping of a swallow, and soon, it’ll mimic the stationary flight of a hummingbird.”

The drone has an ultra-compact design, weighing less than 10 grams. Its components are made from liquid crystal polymers, carbon fiber, self-lubricating polyacetal, and Mylar.

The inventor, Edwin Van Ruymbeke, an aeronautics engineer, patented a steering system that lets Bionic Bird make rapid maneuvers. The drone is controlled with an app, and the app and device connect via Bluetooth. This connection method allows multiple Bionic Bird operators to fly in the same area without interference. The app is available on both iOS and Android.

Flown outdoors, the Bionic Bird can fly with a range up to about 325 feet. It can reach speeds up to 12 miles per hours. It’s a quiet alternative to noisier propeller drones.

Per the company, the drone attracts birds, such as sparrows and swallows, which have been observed flying alongside the Bionic Bird. The company cautions that the drone’s small, bird-like appearance can also make it a target of birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles.

Bionic Bird can be flown indoors, provided its tail is set to slow speed. Indoors, the pilot can use fingertips on the app’s screen to make the drone do acrobatic moves (and freak out any pets in the house.)

The drone is available for purchase online for about $105 USD.

All I Want for Xmas is a Bionic Bird Drone

Bionic Bird

It’s a huge step up from the days of 10-cent wooden gliders. A French startup has released the Bionic Bird—a drone that actually looks like a bird in flight.

The drone is built from the concept of biomimicry. This is an engineering design inspired by living things. According to the manufacturer, Bionic Bird “mimics the majestic soaring of an eagle as well as the dynamic flapping of a swallow, and soon, it’ll mimic the stationary flight of a hummingbird.”

The drone has an ultra-compact design, weighing less than 10 grams. Its components are made from liquid crystal polymers, carbon fiber, self-lubricating polyacetal, and Mylar.

The inventor, Edwin Van Ruymbeke, an aeronautics engineer, patented a steering system that lets Bionic Bird make rapid maneuvers. The drone is controlled with an app, and the app and device connect via Bluetooth. This connection method allows multiple Bionic Bird operators to fly in the same area without interference. The app is available on both iOS and Android.

Flown outdoors, the Bionic Bird can fly with a range up to about 325 feet. It can reach speeds up to 12 miles per hours. It’s a quiet alternative to noisier propeller drones.

Per the company, the drone attracts birds, such as sparrows and swallows, which have been observed flying alongside the Bionic Bird. The company cautions that the drone’s small, bird-like appearance can also make it a target of birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles.

Bionic Bird can be flown indoors, provided its tail is set to slow speed. Indoors, the pilot can use fingertips on the app’s screen to make the drone do acrobatic moves (and freak out any pets in the house.)

The drone is available for purchase online for about $105 USD.

Can Drones Help Your Business Take Off?

drone

Drones are increasingly taking flight worldwide. And not just as tools for reconnaissance or toys for the tech-savvy. These days, drones offer significant, potential benefits for businesses of all sizes.

But first, a very brief history lesson. The U.S. military has long used drones for surveillance, while hobbyists, for their part, have flown small model planes since the early 1900s. What’s groundbreaking about today’s commercial drones, however, is the coupling of the technologies. Commercial drones pair the aerial data collection capabilities of military drones with the compactness and agility of model aircraft. And businesses are taking notice.

For instance, drones have recently proven popular for aerial photography and filming.  Rather than using helicopters to take bird’s eye photographs or shoot aerial view videos, many—including real estate brokers, construction contractors, and filmmakers, just to name a few—are now flying drones equipped with cameras. Why? Because they save money by not having to pay to use helicopters manned by a photographer or videographer.  Using drones, they can capture the same aerial photos or videos for less money.

And given their cost-saving potential, drones are even finding a home in more change-resistant industries. Insurers, for example, are considering using drones for roof inspections. Instead of having someone climb up to inspect a policyholder’s roof, they imagine flying drones above homes to photograph the roofs.  This would benefit insurers by improving worker safety (i.e., no risk of injury from climbing on a roof), reducing expense (injuries cost money), and increasing efficiency (drones can quickly cover multiple roofs).

But there’s more. Farmers are using drones to survey crops. Utility companies are using drones to inspect high-reaching infrastructure, such as telephone poles. Other companies are using drones equipped with sensors that can detect how much heat a surface emits, and what lies behind it. Think X-ray glasses from above. As the technology improves, potential drone uses will only multiply. Drones, coming soon to a sky near you.

So, what does this mean for businesses?

Think about your company’s common practices. Do you often take aerial photographs or videos? Do you typically require employees to climb tall surfaces? Do you frequently have to collect information about a wide land area? Consider whether a drone could help you accomplish these tasks more safely and efficiently.

OK, but my company doesn’t employ any pilots. How will I be able to fly a drone?

First, you likely don’t need a licensed airplane pilot. Second, drone manufacturers are making drones easier to fly so that the technology can be more widely adopted. Some drones even have an autopilot feature. Now, that said, there is still a learning curve, but many drone manufacturers offer tutorials. So don’t be deterred by the flying aspect.

All right, but what about the cost of drones?

The cost varies, depending on the drone’s features, such as the camera quality, durability, and battery life. The cheapest drones are priced around $100, but prices can reach $10,000+. As with any investment in technology, it is important to consult with knowledgeable, reputable vendors to determine the best drone(s) for your business’s needs and budget.

One last question, does my business need any kind of license to fly drones?

The short answer is likely yes, but obtaining the “license” is mostly hassle-free these days, depending on your company’s needs. The FAA has established rules and procedures for the commercial operation of drones. It also requires a company to have the drone’s operator(s) pass a basic test that is given nationwide. The test is meant for those without flying experience and designed to require only a few hours of study time.


“Stephen L. Ball is Government Affairs Counsel for CSAA Insurance Group. A proud Wolverine, Stephen has a B.A. in Political Science and a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Michigan. He also has a J.D. from Harvard Law School. For more information about the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules and procedures for commercial drone use, see https://www.faa.gov/uas/.”

[WATCH] Black Tech Founders Demo Products and Services at TechConneXt Innovation Lab

TechConneXt

A highlight feature of this year’s Black Enterprise TechConneXt Tech Summit, held last weekend in Burlingame, C.A., was the Innovation Lab. Several companies, including FedEx and black-owned tech startups, demonstrated a wide range of products and services. Here are a few of those founders in action:

Brock Christoval, founder and CEO of Flyspan, showed his company’s solution for enterprise drone fleet management. His intelligent drone management software allows businesses that operate multiple drones (for delivery, for example) to have granular, real time control over their drone fleet.

Christoval, an engineer with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Science Engineering from Tuskegee University, launched the company in 2013 along with another engineer, Vinny Capobianco.



The CEO of Amp.it, Derrick N. Ashong, was on hand in the Innovation Lab to demonstrate the power of his company’s software solution for building an engaged community around content.

Amp.it is a mobile optimized web platform. It has an embeddable video player that lets users log in directly from the player via Facebook. Users receive points when they consume or share content. As they do so, they rise through levels—from “Fan” to “Tastemaker”—receiving recognition and rewards from content producers, brands, and other creators competing for their attention.

The company’s first client was The World Cup of Hip Hop: Take Back the Mic—a two-time Emmy finalist in Original Interactive Programming.





Imo Udom, the founder of WePow, showed the future of the work interview and hiring process. WePow is a platform that lets companies create pre-recorded or live interviews with perspective hires. Businesses using WePow include Adidas, Lenovo, and Box. With WePow, Udom says that businesses “regain time, reduce costs, and recruit precisely.”

WePow is located in the same town as Apple, Cupertino and embodies Silicon Valley innovation, with its array of services, including company branded interviews and mobile apps.



 

 

 

 

Get Ready for the Upcoming Drone Overtake

drones

Until recent years, drones were mostly high-tech, remote control toys, but they are increasingly being used as weapons of war. Soon, drones will also reign supreme in commercial markets.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are of high interest to tech investors who see huge revenue potential. According to Drone Industry Insights, 2015 was a record year for UAV funding, with 89% of professional investments in the drone market by venture capitalists.

The commercial sector is so ripe for UAV penetration, that many companies that made recreational drones, shifted focus to commercial models. From The Drone Market Environment Map 2016:

“3DR, for example, completely gave up the recreational sector and is focusing on commercial solutions only. Insitu expanded their portfolio and started manufacturing platforms not just for military, but also for civil and commercial applications.

DJI, the market leader in the recreational sector, now expands into the commercial market with platforms for professional media production and agricultural crop dusting solutions.”

UAVs will make a huge impact on the education, emergency, inspection, oil and gas, real estate, and agriculture business sectors.

Some examples of commercial drone use:

  • Colleges and universities are developing unmanned aircraft system programs to expand research across many disciplines.
  • Just recently, the Hamilton County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Office announced it will use drones to gather evidence for court cases, detect bombs, and find missing persons. Other agencies are implementing similar strategies.
  • In the mining industry, drones are being explored as cheaper and safer ways to map deposit sites and explore for minerals via remote control.
  • The agricultural drone market is expected to reach $480 million by 2026. These drones will be used for spraying crops, gathering data about plant and soil health, harvesting, and more.
  • Amazon is set to launch its Prime Air service that uses small UAVs to deliver packages up to five pounds. Google and Walmart also plan to deploy drone delivery services.

 

Get Ready for the Upcoming Drone Overtake

drones

Until recent years, drones were mostly high-tech, remote control toys, but they are increasingly being used as weapons of war. Soon, drones will also reign supreme in commercial markets.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are of high interest to tech investors who see huge revenue potential. According to Drone Industry Insights, 2015 was a record year for UAV funding, with 89% of professional investments in the drone market by venture capitalists.

The commercial sector is so ripe for UAV penetration, that many companies that made recreational drones, shifted focus to commercial models. From The Drone Market Environment Map 2016:

“3DR, for example, completely gave up the recreational sector and is focusing on commercial solutions only. Insitu expanded their portfolio and started manufacturing platforms not just for military, but also for civil and commercial applications.

DJI, the market leader in the recreational sector, now expands into the commercial market with platforms for professional media production and agricultural crop dusting solutions.”

UAVs will make a huge impact on the education, emergency, inspection, oil and gas, real estate, and agriculture business sectors.

Some examples of commercial drone use:

  • Colleges and universities are developing unmanned aircraft system programs to expand research across many disciplines.
  • Just recently, the Hamilton County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Office announced it will use drones to gather evidence for court cases, detect bombs, and find missing persons. Other agencies are implementing similar strategies.
  • In the mining industry, drones are being explored as cheaper and safer ways to map deposit sites and explore for minerals via remote control.
  • The agricultural drone market is expected to reach $480 million by 2026. These drones will be used for spraying crops, gathering data about plant and soil health, harvesting, and more.
  • Amazon is set to launch its Prime Air service that uses small UAVs to deliver packages up to five pounds. Google and Walmart also plan to deploy drone delivery services.

 

Tech Innovator of the Week: Brock Christoval, CEO, Flyspan

flyspan

Drones are not just a hobbyist’s pastime but are used increasingly for security (think bomb-diffusing drones); in agriculture; and in myriad ways. It’s a good time to get into drones and Brock Christoval, CEO and co-founder of Flyspan, has done just that.

Christoval, an engineer with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Science Engineering from Tuskegee University, launched the company in 2013 along with another engineer, Vinny Capobianco.

tcs-logoFlyspan connects the power of drones to commercial industries. The company also makes a software platform enabling users to make decisions using real-time information from their drone fleet. In a nutshell, this is an intelligent drone fleet management solution.

In an interview with Drones X, Christoval said, “The company was founded on the realization that when organizations want to bring drone technology to their businesses, they will need a solutions provider with superior technical expertise in engineering things, from problem to solution.”

He also sits on a drone advisory board for the FAA. He worked on an effort to come up with a minimal operations procedure that would satisfy both the drone industry and the FAA’s regulations, according to an article by The Drone Girl.

Christoval was also invited by California Gov. Jerry Brown to speak on a panel about the potentials for the commercial drone industry for the state, as per Drones X.

At the panel, he encouraged building a “drone highway of the future.” Gov. Brown’s office used papers published by Flyspan to study the potential of drone use.

Christoval is regularly featured as a presenter and panelist at various industry events, discussing the current challenges of drones and the roadmap for the technology.

He said at one event, “One of the biggest obstacles in the drone industry is that we need vehicles that can fly for over one hour. Battery life is a major challenge.”

Flyspan will provide exciting demonstrations of its cutting-edge drone technology at Black Enterprise’s TechConneXt Summit in the Innovation Lab.