The smart little device tracks the number of words your child hears and says each day
The world’s first wearable device designed to boost language development in babies and young children launches in the UK today.
Created by VersaMe, the Starling is a small, smart device with an accompanying iPhone app that counts the number of words young children and babies hear and say each day.
Even before children can verbalise thoughts, their brain is busy processing language. With 82% of brain development taking place before the age of three, their most formative education begins long before reception class.
Countless research has shown that children learn language based on how much their parents, other children and adults talk to them. The more words heard from birth to age four, the sooner that child will learn to talk and read. Yet studies show that some children easily fall 30 million words behind their peers by their fourth birthday.
This is where the Starling comes in. For the first time, parents can track the number of words their baby hears and, eventually, says. By getting feedback, parents can improve the quantity and quality of their verbal interactions ensuring their child is on the path to greater success. As little as 10 minutes of extra talk per day can make a huge difference to development.
How does it work?
Starling has been carefully designed to suit newborns through to four-year-olds. It is a small device that can be clipped to children’s clothing or attached to baby gear. It weighs no more than a packet of gum, is made of medical grade plastic and, as it’s built for children, is water, vomit and dribble resistant.
With a rechargeable battery that lasts up to four days, the Starling uses advanced proprietary algorithms to count the number of words spoken. An activity light on the front signals the level of engagement in real time.
The data is then transferred to an accompanying app via Bluetooth Low Energy to give more detailed feedback. The app also offers tips and activities to help parents increase their engagement. It also allows users to set word count goals and monitor progress.
VersaMe, the company behind the Starling, was founded by three Stanford graduates – Nicki Boyd and brothers Chris and Jon Boggiano. Dedicated to improving education through technology, the team is passionate about changing the notion that education only starts in nursery.
The Starling is available for pre-order from www.versame.com at £149 and will ship in August 2016. Parents, grandparents, caregivers and family friends can use the intuitive, child-safe Starling to engage in a meaningful way with the children in their life while helping improve their intelligence before they ever get to the classroom.
Nicki Boyd, co-founder, Starling
“It’s incredible how much of an impact simply talking to your child can have. With the Starling, parents can monitor how much they are engaging with and speaking to their children. It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day life, but the tips and activities from the app offer a gentle reminder. It’s also great to see your progress as the level of words increases.”
Nicki Boyd is available for further comment
Ashna Ganatra, speech and language therapist for the NHS and Kiki's Clinic
"Guided by the most current research in early childhood language and literacy development, the Starling is a user-friendly resource for helping parents, educators and speech-language therapists to maximize young children's learning.
"By focusing on the power of everyday routines, conversations and play, Starling makes language and literacy learning a fun and natural part of every child's day."
Please get in touch for further comments and analysis from Ashna
Feedback from parents
Ashna has also been trialling the Starling with her daughter Sienna, who is two years and four months old. She said, "I have trialled it for a month now and it is fabulous to see that each day I am increasing the number of words spoken to her…We have been ‘walking and talking’ which meant for every opportunity even in the car and on the go I would communicate with Sienna."
Ashna added "My daughter loves her little star and calls it her special star, she does not mind wearing it at all throughout the day."
Ingrid Baxter, whose son, Xavier, is two and a half years old, has been using the Starling for a month. She said "I've really enjoyed using the Starling - it is easy to use and robust, which is important when you have a two year old! I've noticed a difference in the way I speak to Xavier; whenever I see it on him, it reminds me that he needs to be hearing sentences, not baby talk. I enjoy a challenge and it's been fun to see how many words I can manage in a day."
Dan Lovegrove, father of two year old Harry, has also found it helps, saying "For me, the biggest impact is in the way it affects my behaviour. Seeing the Starling clipped to Harry is a great visual reminder that I should be talking to him, not at him, and consciously think about the kind of sentences I am using when I am speaking to him. Instead of telling him where we are going, I ask him, and then I ask him what he likes about it, and so on - it's more of a conversation."
If you would like more information about our trials, please get in touch
Key features of the Starling:
- It works in any language
- It has a 4-day battery life
- It is the size of a dummy
- It is water and dribble proof
- It comes with multiple attachments
- It is made of medical grade plastic
- It doesn’t record conversation, just counts words
- It comes with a companion mobile app
- The app recommends age-specific activities
Started by parents and driven by research, VersaMe is dedicated to building tools to improve child development during their most formative years.
Its flagship product, the Starling, tracks verbal engagement between parents and young children. Born out of Stanford University, it is the world's first education wearable for infants and toddlers. Whether you're a parent, a grandparent, a caregiver or a family friend, the Starling lets everyone play a role in building the educational foundation for future generations.
To learn more and to start using your words with your kids, visit http://www.versame.com.