Kids don't wear wristwatches so they won't care about wearable tech. That's the industry panic but the Jewelbots Kickstarter campaign, which has already tripled its $30,000 goal, proves there's another way: friendship bracelets. Yep.
Jewelbots is a line of kid-friendly smart jewellery designed to get girls interested in coding. It connects to a fun smartphone app that lets them interact with their friends - for instance, by setting their wearable to light up or vibrate when specific friends are nearby. If the whole gang is together, the Jewelbots pulse and form a rainbow - adorable.
The device itself is made up of four multicolour LEDs with a vibration module inside a compact, flower-shaped plastic casing. There's Bluetooth, USB 3.0 and a choice of 10 band colours - the default band is purple.
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Member of the Jewelbots gang will be able to send morse code-style messages to each other and detect nearby friends straight away. Once they've got the hang of it, that's when the real smartwatch-like potential begins. Getting weather updates, text messages, Instagram notifications and even, apparently, flying a drone.
The more developed coding comes when the device is connected via USB to a computer. On the Jewelbots website, user will have access to snippets of code which can be customised to fit their goals.
The inspiration for this project, set up by three female developers and fashion execs, came from a 2012 study from the Girl Scout Institute. It said that 75% of girls were interested in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). However, it showed these girl were also very likely to be interested in creative pursuits like drawing, writing and fashion. In other words, it's OK to like jewellery in the shape of pretty flowers and still be interested in gadgets.
On the Jewelbots campaign page it says: "Girls are not one dimensional. We want to show them that you can be interested in tech... and everything else that's fun about being a girl."
Projects like this, and the very similar Linkitz project for 4 - 8 year olds, are great for wearables and coding, with more kids getting excited about the potential for both areas of tech. Now we just need a Jewelbots-style project for boys.
The early bird deals have already gone, but you can still pick up the wearable for $59 or get two for $89.
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