Thursday, March 11, 2010

iPad for children - gonna need damage countermeasures

A blogger at Computerworld thinks the iPad is the ideal delivery system for my idea for children's e-books that I had a few years ago. He calls it the "children's toy of the year." I think he's right and I bet the people at the book companies are already working on content. I wish I could get in on that. The demo video in the article is aimed at very small children. My idea was more of a juvenile fiction concept for tweens where the book would be kind of like the newspaper in Harry Potter movies - the photos would actually be embedded videos.

The other pivotal part of my idea was that an audio book and written text would be integrated so you could switch back and forth from reading to listening on your headphones or do both, which would be an excellent way for people to learn proper pronunciation and spelling. (I saw a tweet the other day that said "we lisented to music." Does this person SAY it like that? Or have they just seen it written and knew it had a t in it somewhere?)

How about a dictionary linked in too, so users can select a word and look it up in the dictionary?

Since I don't really know that much about kids and parents I appreciated this insight in the PCWorld story: "Naysayers in my Buzz group say parents won't shell out $500 for a children's toy. Here's my response: Wanna bet?" I'm always amazed with the things parents buy their kids, club dues they pay for them, activities they subsidize, so I expect he's right. I'm not betting against the iPad, no way. But I would be interested in being on the design team for a kid-resistant case for it. Maybe even a service where you send your iPad to be dipped in that stuff they use for spray-in truck bed liners. Why the iPad isn't waterproof already is beyond me. My product designer friends with iPhones say they are about as waterproof as a kitchen sponge. Apple seems happy to leave this to aftermarket accessory designers.

Maybe the key is a piece of that cohesive and adhesive stickum we used in my electronics design days to waterproof connectors. It was made by the heat shrink company that specializes in radiation crosslinked plastics, Raychem. We used to call it antelope snot. They even had a heat shrink connector jacket that had that sealant built into it. If somebody designed a heat shrink cover for the iPad with that sealant in it and a precise device for shrinking it properly that would be a great mall-kiosk opportunity right there. The thing about the antelope snot was that you could easily get it off. It was like a soft version of that hot glue they use to stick the label on the lunch meat that comes in a reusable container. When you pull it off the cohesiveness is stronger than the adhesiveness so it comes off in one piece. So you have the cover put on your iPad and if you need to repair it you just cut it off and it's perfect underneath. The seal at the edge would stop any grit from getting between the cover and the metal back of the iPad. So once you have the waterproof cover on the iPad, then you can add a shock resistant silicone cover over that and stick it to the heat shrink cover with whatever kind of aggressive double sided tape you want and not worry that it will damage the actual device.

I hope the case companies have a good time with this. Would be a fun project. I'd rather work on the cover than the content.

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