Business Innovation makes parents’ lives easier

A fact about me. I love working with children. Simply interacting with them makes me really happy. In fact, a lot of people have actually asked me why am I in Business, and not Education? Well, I believe taking a degree in Business will still open up a career with children.

I was helping a child with colouring. Taken by child’s parents.

One day I was having dinner with a family, who has 2 kids from ages 2 to 5. If you have mingled long enough with children, you realize that they don’t particularly love food. It’s food I am talking about, not junk food. They take really long to eat, and in most wonderful cases, they finish up half of what you give to them without you having to coax them to eat. Enjoying my spaghetti at the table, there was a little drama going on. The child refused to finish his plate of pasta. I could see some ‘exchange of conditions’ going on at the table. ‘If you finish this small bit of noodles, you’ll get a piece of cake.” The kid still refused to eat. The parents made some compromises – the small bit of noodles became two strands of noodles, which eventually became one strand of noodle.  In the end, the child still didn’t finish his one strand of noodle. So, no noodles, no cake.

Taken from

So, why did I bring this story up? I just wanted to emphasize that getting toddlers to do something is a really challenging process. It’s a lifelong parenting process I guess – but I’m not intending to go into that today. What I would like to bring our focus to, is an iphone app – Elmo Calls, developed by Seseame Workshop and IDEO to call children during their routine activities, such as potty training, getting dressed and going to bed. I think they should add ‘eating meals’ to the list.

(Video taken from

The iphone App is an educational tool that encourages children to engage in imaginative play, practice new skills and sing songs with Elmo. It is a mobile software application that would function as a utility app for parents and as an entertaining behavioural- development app for kids. Kids receive or initiate pretend video calls, audio calls and educational opportunities with Elmo, while parents can activate or schedule calls from Elmo related to a variety of everyday situations. The goal was to deliver a “magical experience” for young families looking to ease the often difficult behaviors displayed by 2- to 5-year-olds during routine activities. For example, parents schedule calls so that Elmo ‘calls’ the kids at a certain time.

Elmo calls….Taken from

This app is really innovative, but what drew my attention is the working process of this design. IDEO came up with Elmo Calls after noticing that kids were picking up TV remotes and talking into the devices to imitate their parents using cell phones. The initial concept raised the main challenge of developing features that would be valuable for the parents, yet compelling for the children. IDEO’s team spent a week talking to parents and sharing prototypes to develop the parent interface. As the team refined iterations, they kept in mind of two themes: parents wanted to activate their child’s favourite calls quickly, and they wanted to schedule call to Elmo.

What makes a design thinking creation different from any other designs? After two months of work, I can confidently say it’s all about drawing inspiration from the user. The design is a human-centred piece of work. And without a doubt, this app is one of such.

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