Social media for toddlers

Update 2:

——

Update:
Much to our delight the project has gained a lot of attention around the world. The concept has been featured on CNN, FastCompany.com, MIT Tech Review, Gizmodo and Vivanews just to name a few major sites.

——

Social media is here to stay, so shouldn’t toddlers be given a chance to dip their toes in at an early age? After all, in just a few years they will have to be fluent in using all the new tools available.

We think the answer is a firm YES. That is why we have created the first social media tool for toddlers.

The prototype is a device with which toddlers can update their status to their friend. Usage requires no special skills. No reading, no computer skills, nothing that a toddler does not naturally master.

The actual status update is done by placing the appropriate block in its designated place on the box. For example, an “eating” update is sent by placing a block with the “plate, spoon, fork” -icon in the square-shaped hole on top of the box. This results in the illumination of the corresponding status light on the friend’s device.

For parents
As any parent knows, mornings and evenings are possibly the toughest moments during the day. In the evening everyone is tired from work and play and in the morning we often have to rush to get everyone out the door in time. This is why the prototype is focused on activities that occur during these times, namely eating, sleeping and brushing your teeth. The interactive toy can be used as a small game to motivate children to be more swift in their activities. “Let’s see if you are in bed before your friend.”

Upcycling
Not wanting to unnecessarily introduce more stuff in to already crowded homes, we wanted to base the prototype on an existing object. A popular childrens’ toy that is used to practice hand to eye coordination proved to be perfect, as we already had a few lying about. The toy also has quite a short lifespan. We have observed that once a child figures out how to insert the blocks in the corresponding holes use of the toy rapidly decreases. The prototype extends the life of the box and also has a working logic that the child has previously mastered.

Technical aspects
The boxes have been outfitted with led arrays and sensors that detect the presence a magnetic field. Magnets have been embedded in the wooden blocks to trigger the sensors when the block is placed in the right spot.

The Iobridge module and web service are used to provide the functionality and relay the sensor signals from box to box. The Iobridge allows the boxes to work anywhere as long as an internet connection is available.

First impressions
The prototypes have been up and running for a couple of weeks now. We are definitely talking about our friends more often than previously. On the downside, the girls are so eager to send updates that we have had to agree on turns to avoid conflict.

The Passi family has a slightly later schedule during the evening, so they have been able to use their box to motivate their girls during bedtime routines.

All in all, we feel that the first prototype works as planned and will definitely get an upgrade in the future.