Tech Will Save Us launch The Mover Kit on Kickstarter
The Mover Kit is the latest invention by Technology Will Save Us - a new, wearable toy powered by kids movement to encourage active play.
The Mover Kit by Technology Will Save Us invites kids to use craft & code to make games, disco bracelets — anything they can think of – the project launched on Kickstarter with a 50k fundraising target in May (they’ve since raised over 100k with 8 days left to go!).
Dedicated to helping school age kids make and code in an active, imaginative and fun way, Technology Will Save Us build make-it-yourself kits that inspire learning through making, playing, coding and inventing with technology.
Earlier this year, TWSU also partnered with the BBC to design and develop the BBC micro:bit – a pocket-sized, code-able computer given to over 1 million UK children for free. We caught up with founder Beth to find out more about the inspiration behind the brand and what drives them.
Can you tell us briefly about your background, the driving force behind Technology Will Save Us and how it evolved from workshops into a product company?
My background is in design, before starting Tech Will Save Us, I was also teaching and doing workshops around social entrepreneurship at various places like Kaospilots in Denmark and The Young Foundation in the UK. The spark for Tech Will Save Us came when we found a laptop in our bin and thought it was crazy that someone would throw a working piece of technology away.
It really highlighted the role that tech has in our everyday lives and our relationship with it. We don’t really understand it, yet it pervades everything. Both myself and my partner Daniel were teaching at the time and were keenly aware of how long it takes for educators to be able to catch up with the reality of technology in everyday life. We had also had our son, who was basically born with an iPad.
We wanted to empower parents and eliminate the fear of explaining technology to children and help them work together to create a more creative less consumptive relationship to tech.
We started out as a workshop company but realised that by creating products or kits that give parents and kids the power, the knowledge and most importantly the confidence to be able to do it themselves, at home around the kitchen table is equally if not more empowering.
Do you think the government is doing enough to encourage more kids to learn code? How important is this skill for the next generation?
It’s a very exciting time to be working within STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, Maths) in the UK, there have been loads of important changes in the curriculum and it feels like government is beginning to make changes that will inevitably make digital skills a more integral part of education in the UK.
One big obstacle is that sometimes teachers themselves aren’t confident with digital making. We help them overcome this with easy to use instructions and partnerships with other organisations focused on training to support them. Learning to code is an important skill, but we want to create a technical literacy across the board.
Being confident in technology is not just learning to code – it’s learning to be creative with it.
There are several kits available to buy on the TWSU website – do you have a favourite?
It is so hard to choose as each kit is such a labour love, I couldn’t choose just one. However, I never go anywhere without my DIY Gamer Kit! It is so iconic and everyone is so fascinated to see how it works, and now I’ll have a Mover attached to my arm too.
Who or what inspired the new Mover Kit?
The Mover Kit is inspired by kids. We created it alongside over 300 kids in the UK and is designed specifically for kids aged 8 and over.
Can you tell us anything about the research involved in designing and bringing the Mover Kit to market?
After testing our prototypes, we learned that kids love technology that they can wear as it allows them to be engaged and active while having fun. We used this feedback from kids to define the form factor of the Mover Kit – a wearable.
The technology we chose – motions sensors, a compass and rainbow lights – gave kids responsive, active and stealth learning experiences. And they wanted to keep using it again and again.
As we continued to develop the product, we got even more excited that this wearable was not a smart watch, not a fitness tracker and not about data in a cloud but about something very clear – kids learning through active play.
You’ve said in earlier interviews that you chose Kickstarter because of the added social reach that crowd-funding can bring – can you elaborate?
We launched our first ever kit on Kickstarter in 2013, it is a community full of creative people, who we felt would respond really well to our style of making products, it’s really getting back to our roots.
We want brave, imaginative people helping us to create a movement around kids being active and creative with technology.
Have you been surprised by the success of the campaign so far? Has the experience of running a Kickstarter taught you anything new?
We’ve put a lot of love and thought into our campaign – we really want to start a movement, not just launch a product. We want as many kids as possible to be making and creating within the year. We’ve been blown away by the amount of love and support we’ve received in return.
What can Mover Kit backers expect in return for their support? What happens after the campaign ends?
The maker movement in the UK is still relatively young, we have lots of opportunities to continue supporting the growth and understanding across the country. According to the NESTA over 8M young people in the UK are estimated to have an interest in trying ‘digital making’, but there were only 130,000 such learning opportunities available in 2014.
We hope to help expand that opportunity and encourage learning at home around the kitchen table as well as growing after school clubs ability to support digital making. Our backers are part of this movement, with them we will be able to launch Mover Kit and an accessible price to enable more people to get creative with technology. We’re only just getting started!
Interested to find out more? Back the Technology Will Save Us ‘Mover Kit’ Kickstarter campaign here.