Platio turns sidewalks into solar collectors

Platio is a new company from Hungary dedicated to putting solar panels just about everywhere. They’re starting with sidewalks.

Founded by a team of engineers and architects the system uses solid solar panels overlaid on plastic backing that ensures the panels won’t break when stepped on or rolled over and that each panel connects with the next securely. Imre Sziszák is a mechanical engineer who created the injection-molded bases while Miklós Ilyés and József Cseh worked to ensure that the panels look great and work properly.

They’ve raised $70,000 for the project so far and they’ve sold 150 square meters of solar tile for their pilot projects.

The product is recycled out of plastic waste and they click together like Lego. Electric wires inside the panels connect seamlessly as well, ensuring you can place them and forget them.

“The founders are childhood friends and environmentally friendly technology enthusiasts,” said Sziszák. “Two years ago, as all us happened to move to Budapest we started hang out again and realized as having expertise in very various fields we work together efficiently. We started this project two years ago, and founded our company a year ago.”

The project is still a bit pie-in-the-sky but I saw the actual product at the Smart City Expo and the team is already shipping product to pilot customers. It’s a fascinating effort to generate free energy and reduce waste at the same time and, as the team writes, it’s an “alternative to the depressing regular concrete paving elements.”

10 gizmos and gifts to encourage kids to learn to code

Welcome to the 2016 TechCrunch Holiday Gift Guide! We’ll be rolling out a bunch of guides leading up to Christmas, hopefully making your holiday shopping a little easier. Looking for gifts for others on your list? Check out our full 2016 Gift Guide Hub.

Think you’ve got a budding coder in your house?

The learn-to-code space has no shortage of ideas to inspire young minds and help them get to grips with programming logic. We’ve rounded up some of the best stuff we’ve seen recently, from toys which aim to encourage learning via play, to connected hardware kits focused on inventing and project-making, to gamified software learning environments for those happy to gift a subscription.

Prices range from a few dollars for an in-app purchase to around $200 for fancier gadgets. Whether you’re buying a gift for a three year old or a tricky teen you’ll find something to consider here.