This Startup Wants To Wean Kids Off Smartphones And Gadgets With Engaging Activities

Young students form a line as they walk to classes after morning assembly in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

In a world where kids already seem to be spending far too much time staring at screens, how do you keep them intellectually challenged without giving them any gadgets?

That’s the problem that Chennai startup Flinto Learning Solutions is seeking to address. Flinto is a reference to flint stones and how early humans created fire. It’s a nod to how the company would like to ignite young minds.

The five-year-old company that was founded by three dads has become a leading player in the early childhood education segment. It provides learning kits and activity boxes to children and to mom-and-pop preschools on a subscription basis. It’s raised $9.5 million in funding to date, the latest of which was a debt investment round in August. Flinto’s investors include venture capital firms Globevestor from the U.S. and India’s Lightbox.

Chennai’s Flinto Learning Solutions provides subscription-based activity boxes and kits for toddlers and kids up to the age of 12. (Source: Flinto Learning Solutions)Flinto Learning Solutions

Flinto said that it made $2.7 million in the past year, and is already profitable at the operational level. It’s looking to make $6 million in the upcoming year. It’s reached more than 500,000 children across 1,000 cities. Flinto is currently shipping to Singapore, Malaysia, Qatar, the UAE, Laos, Indonesia and Kuwait. It sends out 80,000 kits a month, both domestic and overseas.

The company’s cofounders: Arunprasad Durairaj, 37, Vijaybabu Gandhi, 38, and Shreenidhi SP, 36, who had all worked for Tata Consultancy Services at one point, started Flinto when they realized that their own kids were in need of more intellectually stimulating activities. The three of them brainstormed and wanted to see if they could put together toys, activities and books that would help parents.

[“source=gsmarena”]

This Samsung exec wants gadgets to start talking to us like friends right out of the box

Gadgets of the future

It sounds incredibly dystopian, and like a nod to Spike Jonze’s 2013 movie Her, but Viv Labs CEO Dag Kittlaus shared his quirky-sounding vision for the future of gadgets and machines during a discussion this week as part of the Samsung Developer Conference. One day, he imagines, you’re going to make a tech purchase of some kind, take it home, pull it out of the box, plug it in — and it’s just going to start talking to you. Politely, like a friend, in a kind of high-tech superseding of the days when you had to navigate start menus and read instructions. It will just know who you are, what you like (thanks to pre-loaded data), and will ask you what you want to do next.

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“I have a vision — and I think a lot of us here at Samsung share this vision — where it’s not just about buying a cool, shiny object anymore,” said Kittlaus, who’s also a co-creator of Apple’s Siri. “I can imagine a day where every time you buy a Samsung product, you literally take it out of the box, plug it in, authenticate yourself somehow and it says, ‘Hi Spike, how’s it going today? I just downloaded your favorite preferences. Do you have any questions on how to use me?”

The reference to Spike was because Jonze himself, along with Samsung CMO Marc Mathieu, were onstage with Kittlaus, who painted an ambitious future for a company that makes and ships 500 million TVs, dishwashers, appliances and other gadgets each year.

“It knows you,” Kittlaus continued, as reported by VentureBeat, “and that is sort of the first step toward moving from, ‘Wow, this is a really cool, shiny new device’ to creating an emotional relationship with a brand or a company that has gone so far as to take these ideas and really turn them into products, where it just makes you feel good when you pull it out of the box. And it knows you, and it knows your past and it can help you.”

It’s yet another radical vision of the future to come out of Samsung’s conference this week, the highlight of which has arguably been its long-awaited reveal of a foldable smartphone display. Samsung, however, also showed off a new version of its Bixby virtual assistant that’s based on technology developed by Kittlaus’ Viv Labs. Samsung’s mobile chief DJ Koh reiterated the 500 million shipments figure during the conference, and when you couple that with the company committing to put AI into all of its devices over the next two years, you quickly see how comments and ideas like Kittlaus’ this week shouldn’t be ignored. As he sees it, it’s a matter of when, not if, we’ll find it utter commonplace to talk to most, if not all, of our tech gadgets.

[“source=forbes]