Kiri, the New Screenless Smart Toy for Languages, STEM and Interactive Learning for Kids, Eclipses Goal on Kickstarter

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Backers have invested more than $21,000 in the innovative toy that offers children a playful, hands-on way to learn. Kiri is Montessori-approved for kids age one and up.

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From early concepts like color identification and fine motor skills to more advanced concepts like languages, memorization, and mathematics, Kiri will grow with your child. Our goal is to provide the best learning toy your child will ever use.

Kiri, the smart tech-forward wooden block game that helps children learn languages, STEM curriculum and an expanding library of subjects without any screen time, has surpassed its campaign goal – raising more than $21,000 so far on Kickstarter.

Kiri harkens back to the original wooden blocks that encouraged learning through play, teaching kids letters, numbers, creativity and more. Kiri Co-Founder Justin Egbert and a group of Harvard, Stanford and Brigham Young University-trained engineers, designers, teachers and entrepreneurs started building Kiri nearly two years ago with a goal to “create something that’s versatile, adaptive, grows with your child” and, most importantly, makes it fun to learn.

“Blocks are humble toys,” Egbert said. “With Kiri, we just made them smarter. We started building Kiri with a simple premise: Is there a way to build a tech-forward toy without a screen that is still fun and engaging?”

He says while the benefits of technology in education are clear, helping kids to become better learners in a more personalized way, studies have shown that too much screen usage can cause depression, ADHD, anxiety and negatively impact their social interactions with other kids.

“Even tech visionaries like Apple Founder Steve Jobs knew the danger of too much screen time,” Egbert said. “In referring to his kids, Jobs said that ‘we don’t allow the iPad in the home…we think it’s too dangerous for them in effect.’ With Kiri, we’ve solved that problem.”

Kiri includes a block with a glowing logo LED and speaker, charger, two packs of tile cards, a ‘mode card’ and a tote bag. To use, the child simply places the block on a specific tile to engage light, sound and encourage play:

  • Light - The block’s LED light will glow indicating its contact with a tile. If the tile is the color blue, the light will glow blue.
  • Sounds - The block’s speaker will make a noise. If the tile is a picture of a cat, the block will say “cat” and then meow.
  • Physical play – Through the light and sound, children show an increased awareness and attention that encourages play.

Kiri allows children to learn and practice languages, from the most basic to advanced levels, and comes with English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese already built in.

“Each tile pack supports all three languages as soon as you open the box - there's nothing you need to do,” Egbert said. “Just tell Kiri what language you want, then play. As we add new languages, our software will update, and you'll have access to the additional languages for free.”

Through play, children will learn skills such as counting, animals and basic phrases in three languages.

There are dozens of tile packs available in an expanding library of subjects: Numbers, animals, shapes, math and more – with the Kiri Team planning to progressively add new languages in 2020 and beyond.

“We'll continue to add new packs - the options are nearly endless,” he said. “We love suggestions too, so people can message us and let us know which packs they would like to see next.”

Kiri was uniquely created for children of all learning abilities. He says his team spent hours collaborating with parents and children with different abilities so it could meet the needs of this unique and special community. Kiri can teach children with autism, down syndrome, developmental delays, and other learning disabilities.

“It’s approachable look and friendly voice promote speech development, cognitive development, manipulative dexterity and much more,” Egbert said. “And, for our nonverbal friends, Kiri can even become the voice to express their needs.”

Kiri has won or placed in seven business and design competitions, receiving a first-place award through the Miller Competition Series, and third-place recognition in the Student Innovator of the Year Competition.

The name ‘Kiri’ comes from the Japanese name for the fastest growing tree in the world, the paulownia or ‘princess tree.’

“We believe that small childhood investments will have a big impact on the future,” he said. “From early concepts like color identification and fine motor skills to more advanced concepts like languages, memorization, and mathematics, Kiri will grow with your child. Our goal is to provide the best learning toy your child will ever use, and we will continue to add more packs and other products to pair with the Kiri block to enhance learning and fun.”

For more information, or to purchase this innovative learning product at an early-bird discount during crowdfunding, visit the Kiri Campaign Page on Kickstarter.

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