Lego Building and Coding Set

Now here is a brilliant idea. With the technology world taking us into the future, why not give your kids a leg up and get them building their Legos – while learning to code. Lego is launching a new building and coding set that lets kids build five different smart toy models. These will include a cat, robot and guitar among others.

Last year, Lego launched the WeDo 2.0 robotics kit that teachers science and technology ideas to elementary students. This effort is focused on coding. The kit, which will be called the Boost Kit, comes with a Move Hub (which is a Lego brick with a tilt sensor). Users will then download the app that features 60 coding activities.

The kit will be available later this year for $160.

Howling for Your Lost Phone

Those of us who are constantly misplacing things could use Woolet. For $99, the pouch syncs to your phone over Bluetooth and will help you to locate your wallet or other item if you’ve lost or misplaced it. It includes an alert to your phone, a built in distance tracker and even a howling alarm that can help you to find the location of the missed item.

Woolet is the brainchild of Wooletco, a Delaware-based company that has raised almost $160,000 on Kickstarter. It has a mini-sensor on it and the phone will vibrate to warn the owner if the phone or another item is lost. The app will show the owner the wallet’s last recorded location. And, believe it or not, the Woolet can send signals to other Woolet owners to relay the exact location.

As the designers said, “Woolet is just 9.9mm thin, yet ready for anything. Unlike other smart wallets, Woolet is a ‘full wallet’. This means you don’t need to compromise on what you take. [Plus] batteries are an essential component of any smart device but are also often its weakest component. That’s why we designed self-charging batteries to provide dependable power that lasts.”

Woolets can be pre-ordered from Kickstarter and the products are expected to ship in May.

Pedius Helps the Deaf to Communicate

The deaf community may now be able to function with even more ease with the Pedius app. This app allows the user to type a message on the screen. It is then translated into speech in real time so the recipient can then hear the request or message. Their spoken response is then translated back into text for the deaf person.

Developed by Italian entrepreneur Lorenzo Di Ciaccio, this app can really help those who need to communicate but can’t express their needs.
One of the great features of the app is that Pedius doesn’t require both of the users to have specific hardware. Pedius shows alternatives in case the voice transcription isn’t accurate. The user can also ask the recipient to repeat themselves with the “R” button.

The app is free but it costs money to place the calls. Pedius launched in Italy in 2013 and is available in the UK, US and France. They hope to expand into Europe later this year.

Winter Baby Borns More Likely to be Lefties?

left handHere is a bit of interesting news. Baby boys who are born in the winter are more likely to be left-handed than are those born in the summer. Psychologists at the University of Vienna conducted a study with 13,000 adults and found that, in general, 7.5% of women are left-handed and 8.8% of men are. Their findings were published in the scientific journal Cortex.

However, they found that 8.2% of the left-handers were born during the period from February to October, while from November to January, the number rose up to 10.5%. Researchers have thought that if an embryo is exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb, this might increase the chance that the baby will be left-handed. More daylight increases the levels of testosterone, and babies that are born in the winter were in embryo during the spring and summer.

As Ulrich Tran, the lead author of the study, said, “Presumably, the relative darkness during the period November to January is not directly connected to this birth seasonality of handedness. We assume that the relative brightness during the period May to July, half a year before, is its distal cause.’

This theory, The Geschwind-Galaburda hypothesis, named after the neurologists who devised it, suggests that testosterone delays the left brain hemisphere’s maturation in the embryo.

Get to Work Early, Says Recent Study

sleepIn a fascinating and potentially important bit of research, the University of Washington found that flextime isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. Bosses in the study, led by Christopher Barnes of the University of Washington, showed an “early bias” that favored employees who arrived early.

Many international companies allow for flextime. Google lets its employees set their own hours; Microsoft allows many employees to do so as well as long as they come in between 9 and 11 am. At KPMG, 70% of the employees work flexible hours.

As Mr. Barnes found, “People seem to have a tendency to celebrate early-risers. Witness the enduring popularity of aphorisms like Ben Franklin’s ‘early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise’ or, in China, ‘a day’s planning should be done in the morning.”

He explained, “The field study we conducted tested the hypothesis that supervisor ratings of conscientiousness and performance would be associated with the timing of an employee’s work day.” The hypothesis was supported.

The researchers found that supervisors rated employees who came to work early as more conscientious. They received higher ratings than did those employees who came to work later.

They then created a lab experiment to test their theory that supported this early bird theory.

As the researchers concluded, “One way or another, team leaders must come to accept that the people who use flextime to start their day late are not necessarily lazier than their early-bird colleagues.

Otherwise, flextime policies that could serve both employees and employers well will become known, and avoided, as routes to dead-end careers.”