PORTLAND, Ore. -- It can be hard to keep kids away from the screen and focused on an old-fashioned book. That’s why a Portland startup has developed an app that offers the best of both worlds.
Morebots creator James Pritchett says he used his own three kids for inspiration.
“Kids are curious by nature and have tons of questions,” Pritchett said. “I work in the tech field, I love smartphones, so I started thinking, 'Why can’t the smart phones answer the questions?'”
The first book to offer the technological twist is called “Much Much Better Now.” It was a joint project with Providence Health Care. The book focuses on making healthy choices, like eating a good breakfast and drinking enough water.
With the scan of a smartphone, the characters on the page come to life in an animated video. The video offers additional information and lets the kids interact by tapping the screen to answer questions.
Providence executive James Mason hopes it will teach kids something about health care and get them excited about technology at the same time.
“Using a comic book as a vehicle, we thought we could get really ambitious and pull a bunch of rabbits out of our hat,” said Mason.
Speaking of hats, Pritchett wore plenty during this first project for Morebots. Not only did he design the app and record the voices, he also wrote and illustrated the book.
“That’s what you do,” said Pritchett, “That’s what you have to do with a startup. It was fun though!”
Pritchett sais this is just the first chapter for Morebots. There are more interactive books in the works, and an interactive art display planned for the Portland Children’s Museum.
Pritchett thinks the free app could be the perfect way to get kids reading again.
“Adding that layer of technology adds a new layer of energy and excitement and entertainment for kids.”