Baby Edutainment System

July 13, 2005


Baby Edutainment System

My daughter just hit the seven-month mark and it’s time to activate her tech genes. So I am building her a complete learning system. Ideally, I would buy all this stuff, but seeing that I make a living selling DotNetNuke modules, this is currently not an option. Besides, the geek in me could never handle plug-and-play electronics. If it doesn’t require taking the top off a dozen times and Googling for hours to find a driver, it probably has a low coolness factor and has limited appeal.

Anyway, the intended use of the system is to allow my kid to experience two kinds of multimedia content:

1) All the stuff from our UpToTen premium membership (which by the way, is amazing!!!)

2) Custom content I will create to give her a firm grasp of English, Spanish, Hindi, Gujarati and Kannada languages, plus world culture with emphasis on U.S. and Indian cultures.

Since I have settled on the UpToTen content, I went ahead and acquired the Berchet Baby Keyboard overlay.

I also purchased a Logitech Cordless Keyboard, but discovered post-purchase that it has a non-standard navigation key layout. So it now goes into the back of a closet, and I have to acquire another wireless keyboard for attaching the Berchet keyboard overlay.

I already have a 250Gb USB2 external drive with around 50Gb of music and another 100Gb or so of my favorite DVD’s, so that will suffice for the BES. If I can make the BES sufficiently flexible, it can do double-duty as an AES (Adult Entertainment System) also. In which case it makes sense to consolidate all the media onto one drive.

I have struggled with whether to get a Mac-mini or build a Media Center PC, and I am currently leaning toward the Media Center PC, mostly because I can leverage hardware I already have (Hauppauge WinTV USB tuner+fm+dvr for example).

So, I need to acquire:

a) All the pieces I don’t already have to build a Media Center PC (small form-factor case, motherboard w/ audio, CPU, memory, video card, small HD for OS, MC remote control, wi-fi card). This is easy and I think I can get it done for less than $300. I have found a few options and just need to make a decision.

b) Either a decent projector or a plasma TV. This is a dilemma. I’m going to have to figure out where I can get something that’s affordable. I did some preliminary Googling, but haven’t found anything that looks appealing yet (i.e. it’s way outside my meager budget). Most products are geared towards businesses or home theater enthusiasts so the prices are fairly outlandish. I need something without a lot of bells and whistles, but which is functional for basic multimedia content. If anyone has ideas/suggestions, I am all ears. (Will trade software development/marketing consulting for plasma TV…hehe)

My vision is to sit on the couch with baby on lap (or baby in high-chair) with wireless Berchet-overlaid keyboard to view content so she can watch/listen/learn comfortably. I will release any content I produce to the public for free so other interested parents can benefit.

I will leave you with my two favorite multimedia characters — Boowa and Kwala

Co-founder/CTO WhenHub; co-founder DNN Software; founder Edaptable; educator; Open Source proponent; Microsoft MVP; tech geek; creative thinker; husband; dad. Personal blog: Twitter: @techbubble
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