Stories by the route

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

To make children’s car journeys more entertaining, Volkswagen has created a location-based app that tells personalised stories based on what kids can see out of the back window.

The Snelweg Sprookjes (Road Tales) app detects ordinary objects such as tunnels, windmills, pass overs, gas stations, and electricity poles and transforms them in real-time into story elements. For example, a tunnel turns into a rocket launcher.

Why its hot?
Other than stories that adapt to your surroundings in real time, Road Tales gives children a reason to put their tablets way and look outside the window instead.

Robot, a kid’s best friend?

Robots are making their way into schools and education to help children lower their stress and boost their creativity. Among those who have diseases such as diabetes and autism, robots can even help restore their self-confidence.

One research shows that autism children engage better with robots than humans because they are simple and predictable.

Another research that works with children with diabetes makes their robots “imperfect” and have them make mistakes so they don’t intimidate the children. Children learn that they don’t have to be perfect all the time.

Why it’s hot (or not): are robots the right companions for children? What impact would it have on human interactions if children are exposed to AI at such a young age?



Snapchat Spectables on… Babies?

In a new Mother Day’s commercial for Brawny was shot from the point of view of toddlers wearing snapchat spectacles (attached with a sunglasses strap to make sure they stayed on)

Cutwater (a SF agency), enlisted four real families and shot in their homes over two days. The glasses have no playback function, so the creative team had to capture as many “happy accidents” as they could all in 10-second bursts.

The CCO of Cutwater says, “Motherhood in particular can be a challenging time, and we wanted to highlight the strength and resilience that women have during this period through the perspective of their children. ‘Once a mother, always a giant’ seemed like a simple way to articulate this point of view, while celebrating women for the strong and resilient people they are.”

Why it’s hot: This is an awesome execution that uses (otherwise, kind of useless) snapchat spectacle technology to capture simple human truths from an unexpected perspective.

Source: Adweek

‘Family Link’ app gives kids their own child-safe Google accounts

Today Google announced the launch of Family Link, an application for parents to keep tabs on what their kids are doing on their devices, especially for those younger than 13. Family Link requires that both parent and child use Google’s Android phones and tablets. The parent will first download the Family Link mobile app to their own device so a Family Group is created on Google, which establishes the parent as the group manager. Then the parent will set up the child’s Google account and when your child signs onto the new phone the first time, the Family Link app will automatically install to complete the setup.
Think of Family Link like parental controls plus monitoring. The app allows parents to do the following:
• Track kids’ location.
• Require permission for new app installation and see which apps kids have installed.
• Put kids’ phones to sleep when it’s time for dinner, homework or bed.
• Set a “bedtime” and sleeping hours during which devices can’t be used.
• Identify which apps are your kids’ favorites. At any time, a parent can see just how much time they have been spending in various apps. And what they have used in the last 7 and 30 days.
• By default, mature and adult-only apps are blocked inside Google Play so your child can’t even see them though parents can alter the settings to be more or less permissive.
• Set a new unlock code if kids forget their own.
• Ring the phone’s ringer to find lost devices.
• Set which apps get access to the camera or microphone.
Parents cannot see things like which websites their kids visited or who they sent messages to or e-books they read. Kids can also find out exactly what parents see, because they have the app, too. “We don’t want kids thinking Google has built spyware,” said Saurabh Sharma, Family Link’s product manager. “That’s where transparency comes in.”
The app is in a limited testing phase for now and Google is open to having testers try it out and provide feedback. Google hopes to make the feature available in the US in early summer and later this year in other countries as they navigates local laws. An iOS version is not yet available, but it is in the works.

Why It’s Hot
56 percent of kids in the US aged 8 to 12 have mobile phones. Family Link addresses the trend of kids accessing the internet at younger and younger ages. Google allows parents to deselect apps they don’t want their kids to use. Android Pay and YouTube are off limits for all kid accounts (though YouTube Kids is available). Every family is different as far as rules around screen time go, so Family Link takes this into account. Google lets you set a different limit for each day of the week, and you can also set a specific Bedtime period, where the device automatically locks up at a certain time of night. Of course, no tool is going to substitute for the guidance, understanding and rules parents will put in place for their own kids. Family Link opens up the conversations between parent sand their children regarding smartphone and online behavior.

S7 Airlines – A World of Pure Imagination

In an online film for S7 Airlines, twenty kids are asked the question “Let’s say you can go to any place you can imagine. What would this world look like?” Their answers range from “real-life mermaids” to ‘a secret world where people live underground’. The film ends with the reveal that these imaginary locations are reminiscent of real destinations that the airline flies to across the globe.

Why It’s Hot:

Tapping into people’s imagination through children and the proving out that those places exist is incredibly inspiring. As adults, we often write off what could be and settle for the logical, what is. By using children as the focal point, older audiences are able to imagine themselves as kids and remove the default way of thinking from their mind set. This makes the older viewer much more vulnerable in letting their mind wander into areas that are usually off limits. It’s also really well executed, so there’s that.

Creative Directors, Szymon Rose and Daniel Schaefer, said: ‘[It’s] easy to forget how incredible and mind-blowing our world is… The goal of the campaign was to encourage Russian travellers to dream big and remind them that there’s a whole world out there. By utilising the limitless imaginations of children we are able to take people on a journey to see our planet in a whole new way.’

Mattel’s New Barbie is Listening to Your Kids

Mattel’s new “Hello Barbie” hits store shelves later this year and has more tricks up her sleeve than just saying hello. With the press of a button, Barbie’s embedded microphone turns on and records the voice of the child playing with her. The recordings are then uploaded to a cloud server, where voice detection technology helps the doll make sense of the data. The result? An inquisitive Barbie who remembers your dog’s name and brings up your favorite hobbies in your next chitchat.

Why It’s Hot: 
The overall concept is interesting — a toy that listens and learns your child’s preferences and adapts accordingly … a true demonstration of personalization. The obvious downside is that nobody really knows what is being done with all that data (collected from kids!) and puts a level of accountability on the company. For example, children confide in their toys – so what if a child admits that they get hit by a parent? Should Mattel be on the hook to report it?

Interactive Toys Can Now Collect Data on Children

New toys are equipped with WiFi or bluetooth technology to remember past conversations with children. The technology functions much like Siri on an iPhone – it collects information from conversations and play, and then feeds that information back to the user in order to create more interaction.


See more about interactive Barbie on NBC News and Engadget.

Why It’s Hot | As NBC News points out, data collection isn’t always a good thing, especially when it involves children. Once the information is saved, it opens the door for hackers to spy on children. Additionally, as with most new technology in toys, there are worries of lessening children’s capacity for imagination when so much of their play is dictated. Despite those concerns, these interactive dolls could create more engaging, realistic play with children, and help them to develop conversational skills at a younger age.

Sleep Number SleepIQ Kids Bed: This Smart Bed Does More Than Keep Monsters Away


Sleep Number, a sleep innovation leader, introduced the SleepIQ Kids bed at the CES last week. “A smart bed for smart kids.” The SleepIQ technology monitors the child’s sleep patterns, assigning a “SleepIQ” score based on the average breathing, heart rate and movement in bed. There is nothing to wear or turn on. All kids have to do is sleep. The sleep knowledge provided can guide parents and children to achieve their best possible sleep.

Why It’s Hot

Based on a national survey conducted by the company, most parents have difficulty ensuring that their kids get sufficient quality sleep at night. Almost 80% say sleep impacts their child’s performance in school, and 68% say it affects their child’s extracurricular activities. Parents and children can view the sleep dashboard to see how well they slept and how their sleep was impacted by daily activities such as sports, studies, exercise, stress and late night snacks. They learn what to do to achieve better sleep each night.

The bed adjusts and grows with kids. They can adjust the firmness of their bed for comfort and support. It can also alert parents when their child is out of bed or restless. It also features under-bed lights that activate when the child gets up during the night.

The SleepIQ technology utilizes a full-body algorithm to assess each individual’s quality of sleep and provides a SleepIQ score each night. Users can view the personalized data via a smart phone, tablet, desktop or SleepNumber remote.

Bedtime is a nightly ritual for parents and their children. Parents want it to be a pleasant experience and sometimes it doesn’t turn out that way. The SleepIQ bed could turn bedtime into quality time. Learning how to achieve a better, more comfortable sleep would not only make more parents happy, but they would be able to sleep more soundly at night too.

Sesame Street App Helps Kids Deal with Disaster

The PSEG foundation has teamed up with Sesame Workshop to launch an emergency preparedness initiative featuring two mobile apps, “Let’s Get Ready” and “Here For Each Other,” aimed at making children comfortable and knowledgeable in what could be frightening situations even for us adults.

PSEG Sesame app

The Let’s Get Ready app teaches kids what they need to know in case of an emergency, from packing an emergency kit with essentials, to their parents’ names and their home address. Here For Each Other is more parent-focused, offering tips and tools for discussing emergency preparedness with children.

Read more via NBC News.

Why It’s Hot: With so many natural disasters and man-made tragedies in the past few years, between the rebuilding and recovery, there are often discussions about how to talk to one’s children about emergencies to make sure they know what to do, just in case.

I’m not yet a parent myself, but I imagine that emergency preparedness is a scary subject to bring up to your little ones. While perhaps parents and relatives should be able to talk to their children about such things, kids would probably be much more attentive to a game-like approach than to a serious conversation with an adult.

As we have discussed previously, and as we see from the world around us, children love playing on smartphones and devices just like we do. In addition to fun and/or educational games, it might be effective to communicate more serious topics, like what to do in case of an emergency, via something kids can relate to – a fun, kid-friendly app.

Teddy bear helps kids with diabetes

About 15,000 new cases of type 1 diabetes are diagnosed among children every year. Now an organization called Design for America has helped introduce a cuddly therapeutic teddy bear named Jerry the Bear that helps kids understand their diabetes and how to manage it.

Like the children who receive him, “Jerry ‘lives’ with diabetes, and can receive insulin shots in his legs, arms, and buttocks, helping children become familiar with the practice,” according to an article in PSFK. “Kids can also check Jerry’s blood sugar, “feed” him by swiping chip-embedded food cards, and monitor his diet, all of which spurs displays on his tummy-mounted screen, the Glucopal. The new generation of Jerry the Bears can also connect to learning materials online via computer, allowing kids to play diabetes-related games.” 

Why It’s Hot

Diabetes is an exploding epidemic in this country, affecting children in ever greater numbers.  Jerry the Bear is a great education tool to make kids more aware of their disease and how to manage it in a fun and entertaining way that will probably motivate them more.  His appeal has been noticed in healthcare circles, and he has even made an appearance at the White House

Social Networking for Kids: A Great Idea or Taking It Too Far?

PopJam is a new social app for 7-12 year-olds from the maker of Moshi Monsters. If you’re an adult sans children, like me, you’re probably wondering what Moshi Monsters is. A website with over 80 million registered users across the globe, Moshi Monsters enables users to choose a virtual pet monster which they can name and nurture, then take daily puzzle challenges, play games, personalize their pet’s room, and communicate with other users in a safe online community.

Now, there is a social networking app geared at the same 7-12 year-old audience as the website. According to creators, “Kids don’t have their own app where their voice and creativity can be heard, so they are joining up to grown-up social networks in their droves. Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat and Instagram in particular are hugely popular with kids.” PopJam creators want to keep the under-13 audience from “adult” apps like Candy Crush and Instagram by creating a social app made just for them. It’s apparently similar to Snapchat and Instagram, but for children specifically. With careful moderation, creators aim to make PopJam a safe space for children. (Read more via The Guardian)

Mind Candy's PopJam app.

Why It’s Hot | With smartphones for children becoming increasingly more commonplace and popular (eMarketer), it was only a matter of time before social networking apps were geared towards children as well. That being said, at what point does targeting children become immoral? We know there are extensive regulations to protect children from being marketed to; however, it seems these regulations have not caught up to modern technology and behavior.

“Healthcare Advertising Done Differently”

Kids aren’t little adults. They see the world differently. So when Lehigh Valley Health Network built the region’s most advanced Children’s Hospital, they designed everything from a child’s perspective.

To communicate the depth and breadth of the Children’s Hospital, and to demonstrate that the focus is totally on the children, the campaign “From a Child’s Eyes” was created.

The campaign kicked off with two TV spots showing life from a sick kid’s perspective. We see ordinary things and people such as a patient’s room, wheelchair, MRI machine and nurse. But what we hear is a child’s voice describing them as “secret lair,” “rocket mobile,” “laser beams,” and “sidekick.” The award-winning campaign, “Through a Child’s Eyes,” was launched to help the community understand that the Children’s Hospital doesn’t just know how to treat diseases. They know how to treat kids.

Why it’s HOT: I thought this was another example of looking at healthcare from another perspective. I’ve personally worked on many health and pharma new business pitches and I’m always curious to see what other ideas the other ideas think up. I’m interested in hearing other people’s thoughts and who they truly believe the target audience of this commercial is. Is this the reverse strategy of that used in the cereal industry?