Neil the Little Explorer – A gamified educational toy

One of the things I really like about working for Pete and GAMIFICATION+ is the freedom I have, to travel to different places and arrange meetings with people that I think have created an interesting product or service or want to create something with our help.

So while visiting Athens to speak to the Athens Gamification Meetup I met with Evangelos Karapetsas, one of the founders of Another Circus, a creative agency based in Athens Greece to talk about Neil the Little Explorer.

Neil the Little Explorer is an app-connected educational smart toy for children between 3 and 8 years old. He has the form of a little astronaut who is accompanied by his Planet, a docking station in the shape of a hemisphere. His mission is to introduce kids to the infinite world of knowledge by telling wikis.

Neil has some innovative features on him like the heart button.

The heart button works similar to the like button in all social media. Kids give feedback on what they like and Neil lets the parents know what their kids are interested in.

The more kids play with Neil, the more personalized the -initially random- wikis become (via button usage and machine learning). So while Neil helps children discover the world he also helps parents discover their children's preferences and inclinations early on.

Parents can customize the wiki categories via the App and change settings as their kids grow to promote more "advanced" subjects. Through the app they can track the wikis that are being told and play quizzes with their kids. Quizzes are generated based on heard wikis.

You can upload a wiki from your phone, tablet, computer and Neil will teach that to your child. Parents get a detailed list of all activity done though Neil. Neil also can be an interface that kids can access Youtube or other sources through the parent’s tablet and look for content relevant to what they have been learning about.

What I really think is innovative and exciting about Neil though, is his geo-location mode. He knows where he is on the planet and pressing his geo-location button, he provides the family with wikis related to the place they are. Let’s say you are in Rome for holidays, you activate the geo location and get information on the Colosseum or the ancient agora of Rome. I think this is a feature that if they manage to get it working perfectly it will be a huge competitive advantage for Neil.

As always, I also want to talk about design. Neil is just adorable. I had a 3d printed copy of him for a couple of days showing to people and everyone just went, wow this is a super cute toy. I believe that all products should look as good as possible and design is important in everything. Kids interactions with the world mainly rely on their emotional intelligence. They will not use something like Neil unless it looks nice and friendly.

Someone may argue that this is not gamification and doesn’t necessarily have place in our blog. In my view, anything that has a real impact on our lives and has some element of games, digital or otherwise is gamification and that’s what gamification should be. Getting inspired by games on how to change things for the better. If there is a chance that Neil will help my child learn things in a fun way and will help me get to know my child more and discover his/her skills and things that he/she likes then I would definitely give Neil a go. I hope that Neil can help people communicate with their kids better and solve real problems while being super cute!

Concluding, I hope that Neil will manage to get to the production phase and be tested from kids and parents all around the world.

Follow Neil on his journey here: https://www.facebook.com/neilthelittleexplorer/ and here: http://neilthelittleexplorer.com/

You can also subscribe to follow Neil on his journey here: http://www.neilthelittleexplorer.com/journeyen.html

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