I switch off the living room lights and spend just a minute basking in the lights of the pre-lit Christmas tree. I head to the study and open my phone to 8 new notifications on my Elfkins app. All of them from Pattu. She begs me to respond to her messages collapsing into giggles at the end of each. I find myself smiling ear to ear at the end of the last message.
“I love you!” I say cheerfully and press the send on my app knowing she will wake up to it tomorrow. I wonder if I should preprogram the “I am sorry” to be delivered every few hours.
Late last night the doorbell rang for the USPS man to make a delivery. Called Elfkins, this adorable robot is a messaging tool for children as young as two/three. There are a couple buttons on each arm. The right side has the play and tutorial buttons. The left side has the directory and record.
I set it up on my iPhone through the Elfkins app as I fixed breakfast for the kids. They played with a few minutes before they left to school and had it mastered.
The doll/robot is soft to touch, a rubbery feel that permits it to move and mimic expressions. The messages are recorded either on the app or on the robot and sent to the network of contacts previously invited and added to the app.
Why I think this is cool?
- Works with kids just learning to talk. The ease of use for a child the age of Laddu is amazing.
- iMessages/Facetime/Whatsapp all work equally well but the learning curve is a little steep and it means the children have access to the phone.
- The toy-like appearance of the robot makes it less intimidating and more of a fun experience prompting otherwise shy children to use it.
What can be improved?
- In its current version, it works only with the iPhone versions 6 or above.
- It is optimized to work with only one child at a time i.e., no way to set up profiles for each of your children.
- The app has minor hiccups during setup.
Overall, I’d say this is a win especially for families with a traveling parent or with extended families living overseas. I can totally see how my Amma and my children can use it.
In the interest of full disclosure, this product is made by a friend of Saathi’s. They did undergrad together. We visited them this summer and when talk meandered to startups, this friend JP showed us this cool robot he was working on. I half in jest told him he had to send us one when the product was ready for market and he made good on that promise.
For product details, please check Elfkins webpage.