Slapsticks on a barrel organ: rake, bumps and pitfalls


    All comrades of my generation remember the filmstrips, and for the majority this remains a vivid memory. I wanted my own children to have the experience of collective viewing of books on the big screen. Content can be found on the network, it remained to come up with a controller for paging. And now, once again watching how the child is happy to rotate the coffee grinder, the idea arose that this is a great children's interface for turning over pictures.

    The first thought, of course, was to use a case from a manual coffee grinder: the handles of coffee grinders are well thought out and this is especially important for developing children's pens. 
    Then a Maestro hand-held food processor caught my eye, also with a handle that was very convenient for the child. But, as in the case with coffee grinders, it was embarrassing that the child was forced to rotate the handle in only one plane, which limited the space for the experiment.


    It would seem that manufacturers of toy organ-grinders should have already worked through this issue and figured out what shape the case should be and where it should have a pen, so that children would be comfortable. Unfortunately, all the barrel-wheels in the children's store had monstrous handles (the economy should be economical).
    But - lo and behold! - In the store, another barrel-shaped toy was discovered - a box with a jumping clown. 


    1. The case had the shape of a cube and this made it possible to play with the plane of rotation, simply turning the cube on different sides.
    2. The handle had an excellent rotating ball at the end.
    3. The case was spacious enough to accommodate all the necessary hardware. Remove the clown is not difficult.
    A mechanical encoder was used as a rotation sensor. The signal from the encoder went to Arduino Uno and transferred via USB to a computer, and the script on Pure Data turned the handle movements into keystrokes for the keyboard. It remained to find the reader, which is controlled from the keyboard.
    Find reader, which lets you create your book with voice acting and even flipping the keyboard, was not easy. As a result, we managed to dig up the excellent software FlippingBook Publisher (god bless torrents).
    There are practically no Russian-language illustrated books with voice acting, but on the tablet you can find a couple of dozen. To type in the content, I bought several books through the Kinderbook mobile app and ripped out screenshots from the audio. As it turned out later, it was possible not to engage in piracy, but simply to ask the publisher of the Pasha application for all the sources.
    The child did not need to learn how to use the device, but it was necessary to adjust the speed and direction of rotation - what angle of rotation turned the page, and where you need to twist in order to scroll forward. I tried to track the most intuitive option for humans and customized it in Pure Data. As a result, it was possible to ensure that the paging took place quite naturally. 

    As it turned out, unexpectedly for me, the child understands when you need to turn the page without additional signals, just listening to the voice acting, by intonation and meaning.
    In addition to paging, you can play games with a barrel organ. At there is a selection of online games for babies that are sharpened under the control of two or just one button on the keyboard. This was a find, since most online games require a mouse or a few keys.
    We selected a game for one Space button. The rabbit rides a pickup truck and picks up animals. The speed of movement depends on the intensity of keystrokes. In our case, the child turns the knob, which, it seems to me, is more natural for transmitting speed than clicking on the button.

    The idea of ​​a startup was to open a library of illustrated, voiced books that children would watch as filmstrips. Firstly, the device opens up a new dimension for children's interaction with the computer, especially for the fine motor skills of the child. Secondly, young children will be able to independently watch and listen to books, instead of constantly sticking on youtube. And thirdly, there is simply nothing like this in RuNet.
    We began the search for investors and partners from the exhibition "Childhood 2014", which was held in Moscow in early March. The organizers let us in for free, as members of the "innovation club", who were allocated a separate table.
    To make an impression at the exhibition, we got rid of the wires, replacing USB with Bluetooth, wrote a "bookshelf" with which a person could select books and open them in FlippingBook. To open the books on the case brought a separate button, and the project itself was called "Cool."

    Of course, the product was too crude to line up investors, but it was possible to meet potential partners. Publishers of children's literature agreed to give their content and explained under what conditions. Networks of children's stores told how cooperation with them might look. Already outside the framework of the exhibition, distributors of educational aids for preschool institutions became interested in the device. It became clear what to do next.


    What next:
    1. Arrange the release of a small batch of devices in order to understand what the cost of the device for buyers will be. 
    2. Develop electronics and select materials for the enclosure that can be certified for children.
    3. Write software that any housewife will be able to run on her computer.
    4. Attract resources.
    5. Identify centers of competence that will tell you how to implement the previous points, avoiding rakes, cones and pitfalls.

    The competency points of
    Russian Startup Rating gathered 8 investment experts who gave good advice to startups in a 20-minute mode for each. As a result, the project was not even assigned the worst rating , but the most important were the promising development options:

    - a universal children's joystick for computers and Smart-TV,
    - a device for correctional institutions with state funding,
    - a device for users of existing children's online readers.
    - crowdfunding
    I’m studying measures of state support for innovation, under which such a project can be packaged. In any case, you need to understand how to produce and how much the device will cost in serial production. Without this, it is useless even to apply for a grant.
    It seems that it was possible to negotiate with CMIT to produce a small batch by cutting parts on a laser cutter, and manually bending the handles on a scrub. In general, work is not an edge, and you have to do it with only two hands, so, dear habraroditeli who want to risk time and / or money - welcome to the team!



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