Gammatek has launched Tiggly, a range of magnetic accessories and apps that work with most new tablets and are designed to help youngsters learn maths, words and shapes.
Tablet time goes beyond mindless play with a new range of device accessories and apps, by Tiggly, which combine physical and digital play to deliver an intuitive and educational experience for young children. The unique Tiggly range is brought to the fingertips of South African parents by Gammatek.
In the Tiggly range is Tiggly Math Blocks to facilitate learning of basic mathematics concepts in young children aged three to seven; Tiggly Words, designed to help children aged five to eight grasp language concepts, and Tiggly Shapes which helps children aged two to five learn shapes and fundamental geometry concepts. Tiggly products, including the innovative magnetic accessories and downloadable apps, are compatible with all generations of iPad (except iPad 1), iPad Air, and IPad Mini, as well as leading Android devices including Samsung, Kindle and Kurio. The robust, child friendly accessories do not require Bluetooth, Wifi or batteries.
Gammatek’s Zev Cherniak says: “Nowadays, children are exposed to electronic devices from a young age. While there are obvious concerns over the impact of extended screen time on developing brains, there are developmental benefits of controlled use of devices in conjunction with stimulating, educational games. Some can encourage imagination, listening ability, learning sounds and speech. Apps and accessories like Tiggly are designed specifically for children, with age appropriate games that encourage cognitive learning, language and maths skills. Tiggly offers parents great tools for turning screen time into interactive learning experiences that count.”
Tiggly Math Blocks is an ingenious way to introduce early math concepts including counting, addition, subtraction, number lines and number sense with the use of “concrete” counting blocks. These help children to understand the meaning behind numbers and connect this to the quantities they represent. Learning is made fun with funny characters which inspire the idea that maths is an engaging subject they can relate to. Inspired by the traditional Cuisenaire rod used in Montessori schools, Tiggly Math Blocks Learning System has received numerous awards including the prestigious Brain Child Gold Award.
Research conducted by PlayScience Research Lab showed that five year olds who played with Tiggly Math Blocks improved in their early number skills 71% more than children who played with the apps alone.
Each Tiggly Math Blocks box comes with five connected math toys in the form of counting blocks and four math learning games. Three of the four games come in 11 languages.
Tiggly Words focuses on the the most challenging part of learning to read; vowels and phonetics. The learning games help grasp important literacy skills in a playful and exploratory way. Children learn to pronounce and build words. The meaning of words is learnt through visualizations and animations, and later applied in their own language and digital storytelling. Tiggly Words has also received many awards including the National Parenting Publication Gold Award. The Tiggly Words system includes five connected vowel toys and four literacy learning games such as the Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen.
Tiggly Shapes is the very first interactive tablet learning toy for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Designed by an award winning team of educators and creative engineers, Tiggly Shapes helps children find the fun in learning spatial reasoning, motor skills and language. Tiggly Shapes includes four connected shape toys and four compatible learning apps.
Tiggly is available at leading retail stores including Incredible Connection, iStore, loot.co.za and takealot.com. The recommended retail prices are R799 for Tiggly Math and Tiggly Words and R699 for Tiggly Shapes.
Smart home arrives in SA
The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.
The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.
The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.
The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.
The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.
My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.
Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.
Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?
These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.
Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.
Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.
Matrics must prepare for AI
By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.
Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.
With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.
Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.
Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist.
So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?
For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.
In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.
This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.
In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.
As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.
This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.
The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.