We consider ourselves really lucky over here at Style Lemon because we’ve been really fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with some seriously talented folks lately, who truly think outside the box and take innovation to the next new level.
So, I’m so very excited to share another fun project with you today which I’ve been admiring for months now and which just launched on Kickstarter on Wednesday. Now, the reason I love this project so much is because it helps with one of the most common struggles you probably have as a parent. How to balance the right amount of technology and screen time in your kids’ lives. There are so many great things about technology, educational iPad and iPhone games, but surely getting your kids to be active instead of sitting in front of a computer would be so much better? Well, there’s a solution…
Ladies and gents, I give you the world’s first wireless smart balancing toy, the Swingy. Created by a dynamic couple duo Urša and Niki Popovic (who just so happen to be the coolest parents ever), the Swingy is bound to blow your little ones (and you) away with innovative, fun and interactive play.
We sat down with Urša and Niki to talk a little bit about how Swingy came to be, how it works and what it can bring to you and your family. Here’s whats up!
Style Lemon: So, Niki and Urša let’s start with first things first. Swingy looks so much fun and it’s an incredibly innovative toy. How did you come up with the idea for it? Why a balancing toy?
Niki: Thanks Maša, we appreciate your kind words. As a mother, you surely know how quickly kids get familiar with today’s technology. Well, it wasn’t any different at our house. In spite of limiting their screen time, we always felt kind of guilty when we let them play on our iPad. Especially on early Sunday mornings, trying to catch another half hour of sleep. 🙂
Somewhat coincidentally, I suppose, this was around the time my mother was thinking about developing a curved walking accessory that would stimulate the user to constantly hold his balance when going for a walk. As a doctor and the wife of an orthopedic surgeon, she has seen many patients with low back pain and posture problems. She wanted to develop a product that would provide an easy way for users to strengthen their core muscles. So in one of our family talks about this product, Ursa and I got an inspiration for a solution to our problem. We changed the walking accessory to a balance board and made it attractive to children by gamifying it. Swingy was born.
Style Lemon: In our family we’re huge fans of wooden toys and technology as well. Sometimes a little too much as you can probably relate to. So the Swingy balancing toy is naturally a perfect fit. Has it always been your intention for Swingy to be a tech interactive toy and for it to combine the best of both worlds?
We wanted to focus on children first as they are the ones who get the most benefit from balance training. Aside from making them more agile, exercising in general is closely related to cognitive development, especially in younger children.
Niki: Having decided on centering the product on children, it soon became clear we would need to add technology to it. Part of the reason is that kids today have an ever-decreasing attention span and need a game to keep them motivated for this kind of an exercise. On the other hand, we really wanted to build a product that is not just beneficial, but also fun.
Style Lemon: Can you tell us a little bit about how Swingy works and what are its benefits?
Niki: The two balance boards are equipped with sensors that wirelessly connect to a tablet or smartphone. In the first game we developed, Swing Pong, each balance board controls one of the sliders on the screen. This means you play the game with your legs without touching the screen.
Swingy improves balance and coordination, enhances reflexes, and strengthens the core muscles required for a healthy posture. All of this helps children in everyday life as well as at sports. Improving balance is particularly useful for rollerblading, biking, skating, climbing, and skiing.
Style Lemon: When can children start using Swingy? Can the whole family play (please say yes !)?
Niki: Oh yeah, definitely, when I say it was developed with kids in mind, this doesn’t mean adults can’t play. Quite to the contrary, we were happy to learn adults seem to enjoy playing at least as much (our productivity at work dropped somewhat after getting the first prototype, good thing we can use game testing as an excuse to play :-)). The wooden rockers can hold up to 135 kilograms, so we really hope for Swingy to become a product for the whole family. Kids can use it starting from the age 4 or 5, depending on the child.
Style Lemon: As I’ve mentioned I just LOVE its design and of course the fact that its made from eco friendly materials. Its an aspect that is incredibly important to so many parents today. What inspired its design?
Niki: You are exactly right. We asked about fifty parents what material they would prefer and every single one of them opted for wood. The shape itself was obviously inspired by its function. We then needed to widen the lower part for stability and added an anti-slip spread to give it traction. The graphic designs come in two styles: we first had the two playful squirrel designs, but then decided to add three more elegant/trendy designs because, as mentioned, adults caught on to the idea.
Style Lemon: Swingy has just launched on Kickstarter. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey from the initial idea to the just launched campaign.
Niki: It was about a year long journey, which we’d never have expected at idea conception. But once you start brainstorming, looking for partners, working on ideas, preparing for events, gathering feedback from customers, etc., it simply takes time. And did I mention brainstorming? Lots and lots of it. 🙂
The Kickstarter campaign itself took us about 3 months to prepare for. Granted, in this time you do a lot of work that you would anyway have to do before launching a product, but it is still a very intense period.
Style Lemon: What’s the projected pricing of Swingy and your ultimate target funding?
Niki: The expected post campaign price for Swingy is about 125 euros plus shipping. This will vary somewhat from market to market. Right now, you can get it for a super early bird price on Kickstarter. (The Kickstarter funding goal for Swingy is $20,000)
Style Lemon: How many interactive games are currently in development and how many will be available once the product is launched? Are you planning on extending it to outside developers as well?
Niki: We have Swing Pong close to its final version and we plan to develop one more game before shipping the first units out. Currently, the plan is for the sensors to work with our apps, but we are definitely looking into extending it to outside developers as a near future possibility as this opens the door to many creative ideas.
Style Lemon: And last but definitely not least, what’s next for you and your talented team?
Niki: Talented? Not necessarily how we see ourselves, but thanks. 🙂 We do work hard though. Our first goal is definitely to get funded on Kickstarter. This will mainly serve as a confirmation that Swingy is the kind of product people would like to have in their homes. For us personally, this would mean we get to continue to do what we love to do. We have a great atmosphere at the office. I recently read a quote from Simon Sinek that resonated with me: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” Continuing our mission of making children active again is definitely the latter.
Urša and Niki, thanks for sharing Swingy with us and the world and we wish you the very best with the project and all your future endeavours! It was awesome having you 🙂
You can participate in the Swingy Kickstarter campaign today and ensure your early bird special Swingy! Just hop on over there to learn more! You can also follow Swingy on Facebook for more updates on the Squirrel’s fun adventure.