THE SMART CRAYON: AppCrayon Deluxe for the iPad teaches basic skills such as how to write your ABCs, how to color in the lines, and what to do when there are no lines at all. Each phase in this product's development was guided by parent and teacher feedback from real use situations.
NEW SMART FEATURES: The deluxe version of the AppCrayon adds interactive smart features such as a color swap button that switches through the 6 basic colors, an eraser toggle button, and even a grip sensor that detects if you are holding the AppCrayon too tightly. All of these features combine effortlessly to teach kids in fun and exciting new ways.
TRAINING GRIP: One of the best features of the AppCrayon is the training grip that helps kids learn the proper way to hold a pencil and develop their fine motor skills. We wanted to make sure that when we created the electronic version we didn’t end up adding so much material that it was difficult for kids to hold. With careful engineering we were able to keep the grip on the AppCrayon deluxe optimized for children’s fingers. We even built in a grip detection feature that alerts the user if they are holding the AppCrayon Deluxe too tightly.
TECHNOLOGY: Ta-da it’s magic! Good engineering always feels this way. Our engineers are wizards of communication theory who have developed a high frequency audio based method for communicating with the iPad.
The concept behind the communication is simple enough. Inside of each AppCrayon Deluxe is a speaker that emits a distinct audio pattern every time the “Color Swap” button is pressed, and another distinct audio pattern every time the “Eraser Button” is pressed. The microphone on the iPad detects the audio patterns and changes the color/eraser accordingly.
The audio is not likely to be heard by yourself or your children. Pets will likely we able to hear the audio, but the decibel range is far to low to harm their ears or cause them distress. We have yet to find an animal that acknowledges the noise.
APP ABCs: The AppCrayon app is already the best way to learn to write your ABCs on the iPad. The software gives real time feedback to ensure that kids write their letters with each stroke in the proper order and direction.
APP COLORING: The Deluxe adds arts education to the app. You may work with either a blank canvas or choose from one of the amazing coloring templates drawn by illustrious illustrator Tim Brazier. (www.timbrazier.com) The color swap and eraser toggle buttons work within the drawing/coloring mode. You may even fade out the original coloring book line art as you work to morph one of the coloring templates into an original creation.
WHERE WE ARE: Our journey has taken us quite far in the process. We started out with little more than a drawing and a concept of a product that expanded upon our AppCrayon.
We spent a long time in the design process making sure that we didn't lose any of the features that made the original so effective. Perhaps most important to us was that adding electronics didn't result in a crayon so massive that kids couldn't hold it properly. We played with prototypes for a while and made several adjustments before moving on to the next step.
The first articles we received from the factory were very encouraging but needed a dozen or so small tweaks to make them work and feel just right.
A few rounds later we felt comfortable enough with the quality to have the manufacturer move forward to a pilot batch. This is a small run off of the assembly line using real parts and procedures. We have this pilot batch in our possession and have been sharing them liberally with kid testers.
MORE TO BE DONE:
The pilot batch of production units are finished and are a lot of fun to play with, however, we’ll need additional funding to complete the full production run and bring them here safely. It is easier to correctly produce hundreds of pieces than it is to produce thousands. We have had the opportunity to improve our process and are ready now to produce in larger quantities.
Watching kids play with the finished product has been a valuable learning experience for us and we have decided to streamline many of the app’s features to make them more intuitive for the smallest users. We have also found a raft of new features that we’d like to build and possibly add to the application. Finally, we’ve decided that we want to share the AppCrayon with other applications. The capacitive tip already works as a basic stylus across all apps, however we're now going to release an SDK to allow fellow developers to implement the smart features of the AppCrayon Deluxe in their own apps.
REWARDS: Without backers, it is unthinkable for indie toymakers to get quality products to market. To show our gratitude, we'd like to offer you some of these rewards for your support.
MANUFACTURING & LOGISTICS: Fortunately, we have already developed the necessary tooling (molds) and the circuit boards are mostly complete. Funding and testing are all that is needed at this point to complete the batch. We always use third-party testing agencies to inspect for compliance according to industry standards. The pilot batch has been tested as compliant and we anticipate that the production units will also be found to be compliant. We have used this factory in the past and have confidence in their abilities.
Upon completion the units will be shipped by sea. We have a reliable customs broker/freight forwarder that we use on a regular basis. Sea freight typically takes 30 days or so from factory to warehouse.
We have lined up Fulfillrite to ship out the production units upon completion. Fulfillrite (www.fulfillrite.com) is experienced with distribution to Kickstarter backers and will make sure that people get the units in a timely fashion.
Risks and challenges
Getting the products made and to your door is often the hardest part, especially when you're working with consumer products. The AppCrayon Deluxe is a complex item combining plastic, rubber, hardware, and software into a fun and educational product. We'd like to review each phase with you so that you can know what it is that you're getting yourself into by backing the project.
What is ready: We already have the test batch of product ready. This means we have a small number of working production pieces in hand that we have been testing internally and by accredited labs for the past few months. These units will ship out to developers almost immediately after funding so that they may continue to play with the AppCrayon and implement the sdk in their applications.
What is not ready: Our in-house testing thus far has shown us two things: 1. the technology works. We credit our communication theorist for making sure that the system is easy to use. 2. The interface needs to be reworked to provide kids with an intuitive experience. A significant portion of the funding will be dedicated to reworking the app to make it as effortless as possible. This may take a few more software revisions to get just right.
Learn about accountability on Kickstarter