At first glance, FlairFriends looks low-tech: a keychain, like the kind every kid has on her backpack.
But this is 2018. Your refrigerator knows you’re running low on milk. Your doorbell can talk to an intruder.
So when you hear that FlairFriends is the brainchild of Westporter designer Alli DiVincenzo and her tech partner Geoff Meek — developer of the original Guitar Hero — you’ll realize that it’s not just a decorative fashion trend.
Every FlairFriend comes with a unique code. Typed into the FlairWorld app, it unlocks 3 things:
- That particular character’s animation, voice and story
- An education adventure around Flair World, and
- A social connector.
That last part is particularly cool. When a child shares the code, and someone else scans it into his or her account, they’re connected.
Friends who are connected in the app can compare collections, and show where they’ve traveled around FlairWorld and how they like to decorate their online “rooms.”
It’s a safe, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act-compliant online connection. These real-world friendships and interactions teach younger children positive digital behavior — before they’re exposed to the social networks designed for older youngsters.
Sound complicated? “Kids these days get it,” Alli says. “They were born with devices in their hands.”
By age 4, there is “almost universal” exposure to screens and apps. But, Alli says, very few toys bridge “the gap between real-world playing and wholesome online gaming.”
She, Geoff and Staples High School interns spent several years developing FlairFriends. It was released late last month for iPads.
Now that the beta testing phase is underway, Alli needs “play testers” (ages 4 “to 104”), to try it for free and provide feedback. Click here for details.
Meanwhile, Alli and Geoff headed to the Dallas Toy Preview. That’s an important part of FlairWorld — and the real tech/toy one too.