Anyone who has spent time with kids knows that once they fall in love with a story or a character or a toy or a song, they want to spend every waking moment with it. You have to read “Curious George” on a continuous loop or sing the same nursery rhyme till the cows come home, or pull up the theme song from “Thomas the Tank Engine” on your phone (thanks, Spotify) every two minutes.
Well, the kind people behind Jooki have got your back. Their invention is a simple music player that’s interactive and lets kids choose and play the music or story they are currently obsessed with. You can still read stories and play music — nothing beats mom or dad sitting there reading or singing, after all — but the children can enjoy a little independence when you’re busy, too.
MuuseLabs in Antwerp, Belgium is the outfit that came up with the Jooki, and the device certainly embodies the company’s motto: “Making the digital world tangible.” It’s a hands-on operation indeed, and all of its high-tech-ness is hidden within the colorful shell.
In fact, one thing that’s conspicuously absent from the Jooki is a screen. No, really. It doesn’t have a screen, people… So, how do kids choose what they want to listen to? It’s easy: they pick up a Jooki Star — a figurine or a flat token — and place it on top of the Jooki.
Each Jooki Star is connected to the music or story you’ve chosen for it by uploading from the Jooki app or dragging it over from your computer. You can link the device to Spotify or another streaming service if you prefer. It’s also Bluetooth compatible, and in fact, it works as a Bluetooth speaker for your phone.
You can put together themed playlists — perhaps “Disney Movies” or “Favorite Bedtime Songs” — to delight your kids. It’ll probably make you nostalgic for those days so long ago when you enjoyed sharing music with your beloved when you were dating. Same process, different tunes, and the selections are still made from the heart.
You can control the audio content available by selecting it with the free Jooki app. You’re also the controller of the maximum volume, for which your neighbors will thank you. It’ll save their ears (and perhaps sanity) as well as your kids’. The app also lets you use your phone as a remote control for Jooki.
The designers call Jooki a “standalone jukebox,” noting that it stores audio so that it’s ready whenever kids want to listen. (It can hold 1,000 songs at 128kbps MP3.) It has a wireless speaker and can stream from your phone or the cloud, too.
“But what if my kid splashes it with juice or something?” we hear you ask. Fear not. The designers definitely had their target audience firmly in mind when they developed the Jooki. They say it’s spill-proof (though not waterproof), and of course kid-safe. Little testers put the Jooki through its paces in the prototype stage, so it must be tough, too.
Jooki was a crowdfunding success, with parents plonking down cash to preorder. Now the project is moving into the production phase, and the company is giving a delivery target date of June 2017, so you’ve still got time to get in on the ground floor.