Avakai—An Imaginary Friend. For Real.
Avakai—An Imaginary Friend. For Real.
Communicate emotions and play with imagination. At home, outside or across the world. No screens required.
Communicate emotions and play with imagination. At home, outside or across the world. No screens required. Read more
About this project
Thank you all our backers and supporters. We haven’t reached our goal this time, but this is just the start! We will continue our mission, to change the future of play by bringing Avakai to life. You still want to be one of the first to get the Avakai? Go to our website to pre-order!
It was a crazy month and we loved every second of it! During this time we got featured in: Wired Japan, Fast Company, house and leisure, Yanko design, Design Week, Tech Mog, Petit and Small, Geeky Gadgets, Notcot, The Toy Chronicle, Examiner, Fathers and Inhabitots.
And we think it's worth to take 2 min of your time and read one of our supporter's, Vi's, personal reflection on our Avakai here. It is very rewarding to us to read such a deep understanding of our vision.
Avakai are play companions that encourage screen-free play and emotive communication. The lovingly crafted, durable and locally sourced wooden figurines use Bluetooth technology, bridging the gap between traditional toys and mobile devices. Avakai superpowers inspire imaginative and social activities for kids, together with their families and friends.
The technology inside Avakai allows it to sense proximity, touch and movement, reacting with sounds, colored light and haptic feedback. The Avakai work best in pairs, but even with one figurine kids can already start playing and communicating with another mobile device, that has our app installed.
Avakai was developed with kids between 5 and 9, but we've also seen children as young as 3 and as old as 68 years excited about our companions.
Lasting - so many kids products fade away after just a couple of days. Avakai is made to last, both because of the materials and timeless design but also because of evolving ways of use.
Social - Avakai are built to connect, to play together, promoting social interaction and empathy.
Outdoors - Avakai are one more reason to go out and play outside, e.g. hide-and-seek in the park or treasure hunt on the beach!
Screen-less - even if Avakai bring modern mobile technology with them, the play and interaction are available for all senses.
Open - Avakai are built to inspire and motivate the creativity within kids, not to dictate the rules.
Safe - Avakai are built with privacy in mind — no cameras, no microphones, plus additional security controls on parents devices.
If you buy two Avakai, they are automatically connected to each other. They can send messages, feelings and sense each others’ presence — no batteries, no setup, no apps needed.
Only have one Avakai? You can connect your Avakai to a mobile device that has the free Avakai app installed. You can send tonal messages and hugs to each other, and use the phone to hunt for your Avakai when you play games like treasure hunt.
You can change who your Avakai connects to by using the app. Set up the Avakai to connect to another Avakai or to a mobile device. You can change who your Avakai is connected to at any time, and as a parent, you have full control.
Over short distances, Avakai are connected by Bluetooth. But your Avakai can also communicate long-distance! When the distance is further than 50m, the Avakai can still be connected via the mobile app. The app works in the background so no need to open it every time, for your Avakai to remain connected.
The figures will have a long-lasting battery that can be easily charged using a standard USB cable, like the one you use to charge your smartphone. Based on average usage, we are aiming the figurine to be charged once per week. After a longer hide-and-seek game the little figure might need a power-up already in the evening.
We care for Avakai to be beautifully made as much as to support highly skilled, talented craftsmen in European manufacture. Working together with them is part of our grand adventure. In a small town in Poland we found masters who through their experience and craft helped us transform our ideas into new unique shapes. Based on their knowledge and capabilities we’ll be able to achieve the production quality usually available only for the exclusive design objects.
The Avakai will be crafted out of a high-quality wood, grown in responsibly managed forests according to European eco-standards.
Avakai will correspond strictly to all EU (EN71, directive 88/378/EWG, 93/68/EWG) and US standards and requirements for toys safety in terms of materials, manufacture and labeling. We use safe certified non-toxic paints based on natural components.
Vai Kai was founded by two people who wanted to change the way children are affected by today’s world.
Justyna has a unique combination of skills - in the past she has designed wooden toys and also built tangible interfaces. While studying Interface Cultures associated with Ars Electronica Center in Linz, she became interested in how people's lives are affected by dealing with digital world. Justyna is inspired by beautiful design objects, haptic qualities and the magic of technology.
Matas is a software developer and a product manager, in the last few years he has helped to develop and grow SoundCloud, the biggest community of sound creators in the world. After 15 years in digital products he felt it’s time to remember the craftsmanship traditions of his family and start building things again. Matas has 2 daughters, who are the first and most important critics and testers of Vai Kai products.
Today, Vai Kai consists of a diverse team of professionals, working with full dedication on building great product for today's kids. Our advisors include people who designed the original interactions of the XBOX Kinect, built software integrations between SoundCloud and Apple, Facebook and Twitter. They created products and services at the biggest design agencies like IDEO, invented ways for blind people to see with their hands, and continue to teach students to innovate the world we are going to live in.
And a big shout-out to the team—Katleen Roggeman, Thomas Weyres, Cath Richardson, Ferdi Van Heerden, Brian Yeung, Frank Mueller, Shai Levy, Frank Fietzek, Algis Midveris, Tiago Martins, Daniel Blank and Johannes Wagener!
Our first prototypes were born back in October 2014 and already after 48 hours we were testing them with the future customers:
In the months after that we created several generations of prototypes, looking for the perfect form:
We tested them with kids in different settings, outside, at home, at children’s parties and schools:
We learned a lot—play dynamics, new play scenarios even technical requirements. Some of the best ideas came from the kids themselves, e.g. hiding of notes and expressing emotions through colors!
Risks and challenges
Toys and kids’ products are subject to strict safety regulations. We’ll be partnering with an expert evaluation company that specializes in required tests and we’ll make sure that Avakai adheres to the latest EU and US safety norms.
DESIGN FOR MANUFACTURING:
Our prototypes are already built from a manufacturing perspective, we are using electronic components that are widely available and manufacture-quality wooden tooling. However, we are aware that because of the unique combination of functionalities and materials in our product we might need to introduce additional changes to meet necessary manufacturing and certification requirements. We will make sure that our supporters are informed about any of manufacturing-related changes we might encounter during the pre-production phase.
Building hundreds and thousands of units is a complex process, which depends on people, parts and tools all running in sync. If one of these parts is affected, the production line might be disrupted and the final delivery might be delayed as a result. If we encounter such problems, we promise to inform our supporters, be transparent and do everything it takes to deliver the final products.
WE BELIEVE WE CAN BRING THE AVAKAI TO LIFE!
We are supported by a strong network of engineers, manufacturers, toy specialists and advisors. We are prepared for the challenges that might appear on our way to building the Avakai. As a company we dedicate ourselves fully in building remarkable products for the today’s families, and bringing Avakai into children’s hands is our uttermost priority. We believe that long term relationships with our customers will be built on trust, and trust is based on transparency and communication. That’s why we will make sure that our supporters are always informed.
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