Baby-Friendly Keyboard Offers Alternative to Toddler TV
Tired of Teletubbies? With the right accessories and content, even the youngest toddlers can jump-start their online education. A husband-and-wife team in Israel have unveiled a new keyboard cover and website designed to teach kids four and under how to use a computer.
Jumboard, named for its jumbo-sized keys that replace the overwhelming array of keys on a traditional keyboard, unlocks a suite of baby- and toddler-friendly games on the portal. The idea for the product came from a mother of three, Rachel Van Buren, who wanted a better alternative to TV.
“The concept for the platform was created during my maternity leave, when I noticed that my young kid was making a big effort to use the computer — like his mother and older sister — but just couldn't operate it, due to his not-fully-developed coordination,” Van Buren told TechNewsDaily.
“I figured that the content and interactivity the Internet can offer to toddlers are a better experience than the TV, but the standard interface is not suitable for them and the existing content for toddlers on the net is poor,” she added.
The Van Burens developed the Jumboard concept with Ora Segal-Drori, a child development specialist at the Levinsky College of Education in Israel. Segal-Drori recently published a study in the Journal of Educational Computing Research that found that young kids who use e-books as opposed to printed books score higher on a test of emergent reading abilities.
To use Jumboard, parents plug in the keyboard to a computer’s USB port and set the Jumboard right over the keyboard of any desktop or laptop .
Next, users can open the Jumboard site and choose a game such as a version of musical chairs. Tiny hands can press one of the four keys to play.
An ingenious feature of the Jumboard is its peel-and-go portability. The flexible mat with its buttons can be removed from the base and tucked into a baby bag or stroller pocket for easy portability. The mat can be used with any USB-compatible device, turning Grandma’s computer into a play station.
The Van Burens are currently in talks with major manufacturers to help launch the international distribution of Jumboard. In the meantime, the product will be available on the Jumboard.com site within a few months. The retail price is expected to be around $50.
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