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May 24, 2016 7:12 PM ET

Archived: Povi: The Connected Storytelling Buddy – The knowledge of psychologists, teachers and parents in a toy that empowers you to help your child grow emotionally

iCrowdNewswire - May 24, 2016

Povi: The Connected Storytelling Buddy



The knowledge of psychologists, teachers and parents in a toy that empowers you to help your child grow emotionally.



About this project

Povi connects parents and caregivers to a network of child development specialists. The Povi app and plush toy provide creative stories that teach emotional intelligence based on input from experts.

We all want our kids to be happy and successful. Emotional intelligence – the ability to manage emotions and social interactions – is one of the most important factors for our children’s happiness and success. 

But nowadays it’s harder than ever to have the conversations that help our kids to learn emotional intelligence:

  • Kids have homework and extracurricular activities.
  • Parents have work and other important commitments.
  • Technology and social media threaten to take up any time left.

That’s why we created Povi! 

The Povi system is designed to provide a systematic, step-by-step approach to building emotional intelligence, a few minutes at a time. Povi adopts advanced analytic and machine learning to suggest new content that fits your child’s developmental needs.  A boon for busy parents and a blessing for young kids.

Povi is designed to be social and interactive; a way for parents and children to come together and figure out solutions to the challenges presented. 

Playtime That Builds Emotional Intelligence

 Two Parts to Povi

The Povi user experience: endless content, ratings and customization:

1. Content – Povi isn’t a one-size-fits-all toy: it has stories for everyone. The app enables downloads of new content based on age and interest and ratings. It also provides follow-up questions for parents to guide conversations with.

2. Ratings – The app enables users to rate stories and authors, so Povi can track interest in content and make suggestions.  

3. Customization – Create custom content to meet the individual developmental needs of children based on data analytic and machine learning, algorithms co-designed by psychologists and engineers. 

 Hi, I am Seow Lim, the project leader of Povi. As a busy working mom of two young boys, juggling a demanding career as a senior technologist in Silicon Valley, my focus for my kids was on academic achievement. I worked hard to get where I was and truly believed that academic success would take my boys to happy, fulfilled lives too. 

Then one day, two years ago, I went to see my elder son’s counselor. “Your child is very smart, but he isn’t happy,” he told me. I was devastated.

Talking to psychologists and counsellors, I soon realized that my family was not alone. 

The start of the journey:

I build a team to create Povi. Povi goes through many iterations of concept, prototype and user testing. This is because the deeper we get into Emotional Intelligence for children, the more we learn about what would make Povi a highly effective developmental tool for them.

Collaboration with an expert community:

“How’s school?” and “Did you do your homework?” We commonly ask these questions to our children after school. However, after attending EQ and parenting discussions, consulting with specialists, and reading numerous best-selling parenting books, our team realizes that there is a void in the daily conversations between family members. Parents are looking for a tool to help them understand their children’s feelings from a different perspective. 

First comes the Povi Family Connect App: 

  • Parents receive one thoughtful question daily formulated by a developmental psychologist. The app has a journal for users to document their conversations. 
  • The questions help parents build a habit of frequent conversation with their kids. 
  • Users tell us they are learning about new aspects of their kids’ personalities and thoughts which they had not previously explored. 
  • Many beta users are documenting their conversations on the app and we receive requests to add an audio recording function.   

But there’s a new challenge:

  • Parents report that the app questions are not rooted in context –they do not know how tostart the conversation. 
  • To tackle this problem, we look back to our team’s trusted advisory board of psychologists, teachers, and counselors. 

Brainstorming and many user testing with parents and kids lead to our final product!

A. Povi would be for kids 3-8 years. Children’s development changes dramatically each year and a one-shoe-fits-all approach doesn’t work. 3-8 is the formative time for children’s social-emotional development: they leave the emotional security of home and begin interacting with the outside world.

B. Povi playtime would be a parent and child activity. Conversations between parents and kids develop important interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. We decide to limit Povi’s robotic capabilities.

C. Povi’s content would be based on real-life situations as the stimuli to engage kids and give parents the much-needed context for asking deeper questions. Second person anecdotes from real-life help kids reflect on their own thoughts and experiences and make it easier to express emotions.

D. Povi would be a physical object that kids can hold and touch. Research shows that kids learn better with physical objects. Povi is plush, huggable, and feels cozy.

  • From the different Povi versions, users told us the small yellow Povi with the big eye was the favorite
    From the different Povi versions, users told us the small yellow Povi with the big eye was the favorite

    We have built a team based on Povi’s passion and mission 

    We are advised by multi-functional experts

    This article in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health presents findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement.

     Media response to Povi

    We are excited by the responses! Details to follow on launch!

    Feedback from in-home user testing

    As part of the Traveling Povi Program, twenty Povis are traveling and living with families a few weeks at a time. Parents and kids who have experienced Povi firsthand, have given us valuable feedback on how to improve the user experience. 

    Now we have a problem. All the kids who have tested Povi want to keep Povi for themselves! They are reluctant to let their Povi go to another family. That’s why we need your support to make more!

    Here is some feedback we received: 

    Listen to a sample story from Povi 

      Play audio: Part 1: Situation
      Play audio: Part 2: Question
       Play audio: Part 3: Resolution

      * Note that Kickstarter audio embed feature is only active on PC and not mobile. Sorry for the inconvenience

    • Povi stories are organized by:  

    • Age levels: 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8. 
    • Developmental goals like Self esteem, empathy, thankfulness, resilience, perspective taking, emotion recognition etc 
    • Themes around kids real life experience in school, in the playground, in the restaurant, on a trip etc.

    We’ve been working hard for over two years to bring Povi to the world. We’ve proven that our concept works, in both hardware and software, and have proven this solution is what parents and kids want. We’re ready to push forward with manufacturing, and we need your help to get there.

    We’re looking to raise $250,000. We’ll use our campaign funding to initiate large scale manufacturing and get our first batch of Povi Buddies and App delivered by November 2016. This is no easy task (see Risks & Challenges below), but we’re confident in our team, product, and technology. We promise to update our backers frequently and we will be fully transparent about our progress.


Risks and challenges

Risks and challenges

We know how important it is for us fulfill our promise to you, our backers, and deliver Povi on time.

We’ve dedicated the past two years to building our prototype, software app, content platform and sourcing our components from manufacturers. We’ve done everything that we can to prepare for manufacturing and we’re ready to go as soon as we hit our funding goal.

That being said, we realize that the biggest risks for Povi – like most hardware projects – are delivering our product on time while staying within our development budget. To that end, we see two primary challenges:


We plan on delivering the first batch of Povi buddies in November, in time for the holiday shopping season. We’ve already established partnerships with manufacturers in China who have decades of experience with consumer electronics and toys and are ready to begin mass production as soon as we give the green light. Our internal team and our manufacturing partners all feel confident that we can deliver Povi in November, but it’s possible that unforeseen issues will arise and cause delays. The most common issues are component shortages, facility issues, lengthy certification process, and failed QA. To mitigate these risks, we have a dedicated resource on our team who meets regularly with our manufacturers to ensure that we stay on schedule. In addition, we plan on flying to China to meet with our manufacturers in person and to ensure that the manufacturing process meets our high standards.


Perhaps the most complex aspect of hardware development is managing costs. Povi looks clean and easy to operate on the exterior, but on the interior there are more than 30 components working efficiently. In order to keep Povi affordable, we must evaluate dozens of options for each component and negotiate per unit prices with dozens of manufacturers across the globe. This is a complex, time consuming, and at times frustrating process.

We’ve already made significant progress on component sourcing, but we cannot finish this process until our campaign has concluded and we know the exact number of units that we will be producing in our first batch. With this in mind, we’ve set a realistic funding goal that will allow us to produce enough units to achieve economies of scale and maintain profitability while delivering Povi at the stated price point.


Povi is designed for kids. Hence we need to ensure that Povi will pass through rigorous safety and quality certifications. This testing could show issues that we need to adjust our design or components and could add time to our delivery schedules.

If any issues should arise, we will be fully transparent and will over communicate to all of our backers. We realize there have been instances where hardware projects have had serious delays – we have no intention on being one of those projects.

Contact Information:

The Povi team

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