It has taken about 70 years for the computer to evolve from room-size ‘brain machines’ exclusively for technicians and expert users to what is now a lounge room Do-it-yourself packet for ages 6+. In the information age it is not simply enough to have access, we need users who are also producers. We need capacity making education systems to ensure we each are able to meet a 21st century potential. We see that social innovation is the bridging tool to feed our curiosity and inspire our curiosity. Recognised in the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 list is one such innovator who has recognised the need for this bridge and where it must be targeted.
Alex Klien, 24, from the UK has developed Kano. A tactile, piece-it-together type product, inspired by what he describes as ‘the creative generation’. The design allows kids to physically construct a computer ‘brain’ that connects to a TV or monitor screen using pictorial storyboard style instructions inspired by the simplicity of LEGO. The concept behind Kano is not simply the assembly of the product but rather the on-board programing that teaches users coding skills in a format that is the product of 10,000 hours of user-experience analysis from educators, artist, parents and kids.
Increasingly, concern has developed over the amount of time spent in front of screens, to the point where ‘screen time’ has evolved into common usage. The concerns range from reduction of physical exercise patterns to fears over the impact of computer use on critical thinking and evaluative skills in contemporary youth. Klien’s approach with Kano engages with kids on a creative and critical level. It is a masterstroke that aids to build social capacity through creativity. Recognising that we are surrounded by inexpensive tools, which all make up parts in mainstream market computers, Klien observed that not many of us know how to use them to make our own. This brings on larger observations of how society is much more comfortable to go along with the flow of consumer demand rather than recognise where capacity gaps exist; most of us are limited to swiping, tapping and typing.
The brilliance and innovation showed by Klien and Kano is that while the mainstream of society is taken as the barometer for product design and success, here we see that an oft forgotten client group is placed front and centre; kids, the next generation. Capacity and thirst for creativity and innovation is handed over to this younger and mentally athletic cohort of our society to build with provided tools, their world.
The benefits of allowing, teaching and fostering creativity at the consumer level befit the true origins of the word innovation; a new method and idea process. Coding and creativity are required by technology to go hand in hand, but both do not need to remain in the purview of those already held by the market system to create consumer products. This innovation hands individuals the power and capacity to demonstrate ideas that may not have otherwise been realised.
For further reading have a look at these links: