Founded by four successful entrepreneurs from the worlds of music, technology, design and marketing, Yoto allows children to unlock a carefully curated world of music, stories and learning via interactive cards which connect to a safe, secure world of audio content with no screen time worries. They set about building and integrating technology and content to deliver learning and development skills, not the other way around.
Suitable for pre-school children and inspired by Montessori principles, Yoto gives youngsters autonomy over what they want to listen to or play - from their favorite nursery rhymes to learning the alphabet through phonics.
The company's approach to product design tries to make the best use of modern, advanced technology, avoiding what could be parents' reasons for concern. "There are no camera/microphone privacy concerns or Internet-nasties, just child-friendly wonder and fun with parents who remain in control," they state. The Yoto speaker is in fact a Raspberry Pi-based computer, featuring an RFID Card Slot, with cards that activate content with RFID technology. There is a simple 16x16 pixel LED display for a total of 256 pixels to illustrate basic concepts without getting in the way of the audio experience. Yoto connects to Wi-fi to stream live radio and to download new content and there is a very simple 5W audio system that sounds good enough. One of the main features are Yoto's illuminated surfaces, making the side and top surfaces of the device to illuminate to help bring audio content to life and encourage interaction. Operation is concentrated on two simple buttons to allow skiping content forward or back, and to adjust the volume.
As CEO Ben Drury says, "Parents have very few viable alternatives between the world of 'toys' and what is essentially designed for grown-ups technology (iPads and iPhones). Tech is a part of all of our lives, which is why we've created a product especially for them which uses technology in the right way for kids."
Each Yoto RFID card unlocks different content; the music cards access a library of nursery rhymes and songs but parents can also add tracks and albums at any time and create custom cards meaning the soundtrack to their offspring's childhood could be more T Rex than Mr Tumble! Children can listen to classic fairytales recorded specially for Yoto in English, Spanish, French and German, while parents can even record their own favorites.
"The very fact that children are using fine motor skills to pick up the Yoto cards will be refreshing news to primary school teachers who are increasingly concerned that children arrive at reception unable to hold a pencil - having spent their pre-school years swiping screens not picking and placing," explains the team that has been working on the development for more than two years.
Yoto is now live on Kickstarter: kck.st/2l57upq