By Evan Ackerman
I wasn’t alive back in the day when someone with no specific tools or knowledge could open something up to fix it or just figure out how it worked. Nowadays, electronics come plastered with dire warnings about how opening the case will void your warranty, destroy the device, and kill you and your pets. This is really too bad, because one of the ways that people learn, or specifically that kids learn, is by experimentation. With this in mind, the Computer Vision Lab at Columbia University has developed the BigShot camera, which comes in a kit designed for kids to assemble while learning about cameras specifically and electronics in general:
The camera can be powered with a battery or with a dynamo, where 6 cranks = 1 picture, a feature I’d love to have in any or all of the cameras I use. It’s also got lenses on a rotating wheel, including a wide angle lens and a prism for taking stereo pictures. It goes beyond just a buildable camera kit, though… The overall mission of the BigShot project aims to keep the camera cheap enough that they’ll be available to kids worldwide, and to create an online social environment of sorts to share photos and teach the principles of photography.
The viability of this whole thing probably depends on what the final price of the BigShot ends up being. It’s currently still in a final testing phase, and my guess is that it’ll end up in about the same place as the OLPC… Great idea, but about twice as expensive as it ideally should be.