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Home / News / Unleash your inner mad inventor with Kano 2’s tiny connected computers

Unleash your inner mad inventor with Kano 2’s tiny connected computers

Banish boring rectangles by making your own crazy, colourful gadgets

Hang on. I thought this one was all about tiny computers? I just see strange little toys with eye-searing lights.

Have some imagination – you know, unlike most of the computing and mobile industries. The gadgets you use don’t have to be devoid of personality. Once, crazy British people put together their own computers from kits, while wearing mad hair and dancing around like lunatics to The Human League. Now what have we got? Boring sealed units. Dull metal and glass that reflects only the tedium and futility of modern life. Coldplay.

So you’re saying we should take a terrifying trip back to the 1980s? Should I get out my fluorescent socks?

We’ll let boring socks slide as long as you properly embrace Kano’s latest project and stop being all sniffy about it, because it looks superb. The idea is to break out of a one-size-fits-all mentality, and, says the blurb, “make and code the physical world”. This is achieved through three kits: Pixel, Camera and Speaker. Respectively, these are a programmable lightboard, a DIY camera, and a means of creating tiny musical instruments and audio gadgets.


There are… quite a lot of children in that Kano video. I fear I’m too old for this kind of thing.

Sure. Incidentally, do you like Lego?

Of course. Everyone likes Lego.

Well, Kano’s aim is to make working with tiny gadgets similarly simple, fun and expandable. The kits all have step-by-step guides, and various bits you can bolt on. You can code your own camera flashes and add tripwire sensors. The pixel grid can display data and play games with a tilt sensor. The speaker can become a customised theremin by bolting on a gesture sensor. And then you can mix and match the kits, creating anything from a deranged talking pixel face to a security system that does, admittedly, look a bit like it fell out of a Christmas cracker. (All the better to lull nasty crims into a false sense of security, obviously.)

Actually, this all sounds awesome. I want to unleash my inner Clive Sinclair. Make it happen!

Only you can make it happen, by funding the thing on Kickstarter. $99 gets you an individual kit, or you can buy all of them for $249. Then when your new toys arrive (some time next year), you can stop being cynical and jaded, get as excited about making stuff as those kids in the video, and no longer think modern computing is all about leaning at a rakish angle against a wall, holding a nondescript rounded rectangle.

Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.