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May 19, 2015 12:03 PM ET

Archived: Linkitz: Wearable, Code-able Toys for Girls: empowers girls to explore technology and build endless amazing creations

iCrowdNewswire - May 19, 2015

Linkitz: Wearable, Code-able Toys for Girls

by Lyssa Neel, Ph.D.

Linkitz empowers girls to explore technology and build endless amazing creations.

Lyssa Neel, Ph.D.

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About this project

 Linkitz as seen in:

Linkitz is a new way for girls to explore technology and coding. It’s a set of electronic components, or links, that snap together in different combinations to make unique, fun, wearable toys. With a set of links, girls can create and customize their own wearables!

Linkitz comes in a kit with a set of links and accessories. Each link offers a unique capability. There are sensors, like a microphone and an accelerometer, and outputs, like a speaker and lights.

Connecting different combinations of links creates different toys. The motion link plays a game of Simon Says. If you connect the motion and speaker link together, Linkitz transforms into a musical instrument. Connect the speaker link with the microphone link and the friend link and you have a walkie-talkie!

By assembling links and using them in different combinations, we want a generation of young girls to grow up seeing technology as a tool that they can use to create things, rather than something they passively consume.

Linkitz is the first wearable that girls can customize by using a simple, pictorial programming language. With Linkitz, imagination is a girl’s only limit!

Linkitz engages girls with technology and programming concepts on their own terms. They get a set of powerful, age-appropriate tools and the support to make something great. The awesome things links do out of the box are only the beginning!

Our toy encourages exploration: “If I move it, it makes this sound – what if I wave my arm? What if I tap it?” “What happens to the lights if I move this way? Can I make it do other colors?” Girls can customize it by changing the combination of links, by swapping in code snippets from our app, or by creating something all their own!

Girls start losing interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) as early as age eight!

Girls need toys that emphasize spatial skills, problem solving and confidence with technology. Educators and developmental psychologists agree that STEM interest should be nurtured from a young age, when early experiences shape lives. 

Linkitz  combines hardware, code, design, and wearability to build a life-long love of STEM through freedom of play and exploration. Linkitz empowers girls to explore technology and build endless amazing creations.

Linkitz believes that by encouraging girls as young as four to play with technology today, we can inspire a future generation of women excelling and innovating in STEM fields.

To make a wearable, select the links, click them together…

 Pop them into an accessory…

 And go play!

Girls can mix and match links to explore the out-of-the-box functionality, or they can check out our Cookbook for fresh inspiration.

Because Linkitz is modular, there will be many more links coming in the future, to expand play options and educational value.  

The Linkitz App

The Linkitz app is under development and will be released with the toy. We are working with experts in kids’ and educational software development to implement an intuitive and easy-to-use experience. The app will help curious girls see, hear and experience how changes they make to the code affect the behavior of their toys. 

The Linkitz app will empower kids of any age to make Linkitz their own. Our picture-based programming environment is built on Google’s open-source language, Blockly. Girls as young as 4 will be able to make changes using simple drag-and-drop actions. More advanced users will be able to peel back the picture layer and use Blockly code to make bigger changes and even create their own games.

In 2012, the conversation around how to engage girls in tech was beginning and Linkitz was ignited by the idea of combining tech with an activity that many girls already love – making friendship bracelets! From this “spark” we developed the idea of a kit that contains little electronic “links” that girls can put together and customize. 

It took a year to design a set of links that were both fun and had interesting behavior. There was also the challenge of fitting electronics into these very small links in a way that would stand up to being assembled and rearranged, but still be easy for little girls to put together. 

Next, we applied for and were accepted to Haxlr8r, a hardware accelerator in Shenzhen, China. We spent almost four months there learning about manufacturing electronics and plastics, meeting with a certification lab, and continuing to refine the product. Our design went through many iterations. We tested it with lots of girls to make sure that we were making something that girls would have fun playing with and would be proud to wear.

The Evolution of Linkitz

Now we have everything in place to deliver Linkitz to the world, and we’re ready to go! We want to start producing the toy we’ve designed and deliver it to backers. Our Kickstarter funds will help us complete tooling, production, and our app, to give girls a toy they’ll really love! And that’s where you come in!

Do you have a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, a sister, a cousin, or a friend with imagination and spirit? Do you know a girl who dreams of building a spaceship, a robot sidekick, an invisibility cloak or an elevator to the moon? Maybe you were one of those girls! Help us inspire girls to create great things, by bringing Linkitz to life! 

Every contribution matters, no matter the amount. By supporting us and sharing our campaign with your friends, you’ll help bring Linkitz to life and inspire girls everywhere!

Check out the awesome design on our t-shirt! It celebrates the superpower within every girl!

Thank you from the Linkitz team: Drew, Lyssa, Chris, Amanda, Lisa, Kailee (missing: Madeleine, Elizabeth, Mofeed)
Thank you from the Linkitz team: Drew, Lyssa, Chris, Amanda, Lisa, Kailee (missing: Madeleine, Elizabeth, Mofeed)

Risks and challenges

We are excited to be breaking ground as the first-of-its-kind, make-your-own wearables kit for kids!

We have worked tirelessly on the design and prototypes and have developed realistic milestones that will have little girls rocking Linkitz all over the globe by next December.

As with any hardware product, there may be challenges with suppliers, manufacturing, production, certification, or shipping. Thanks to Haxlr8r’s extensive network, we have a head start on overcoming those problems and we are working with toy industry veterans who know how to make and deliver toys (just like Santa’s elves!) We are committed to making Linkitz a fantastic experience for you and we’ll promise to keep you informed of our progress with regular updates.

We can’t wait to share Linkitz with you!

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