It’s not exactly earth-shattering news: Kids have short attention spans. But innovator and designer Carly Gloge has been able to use that universal truth to create Ubooly, a groundbreaking interactive toy and Kickstarter darling that could shake up playtime.
As a designer who had worked on a number of mobile games, Gloge saw firsthand how fast the newness of an app wore off, especially for children. After a day or two of use, most apps were left to gather digital dust while kids (and adults) moved on to the new next thing. Gloge’s keen observation inspired her to combine the interactivity of mobile apps with the emotional attachment children tend to develop for stuffed animals. Ubooly, the resulting hybrid, achieved its Kickstarter goal not long after launching in 2012, then received $1.5 million in seed funding. It also landed Gloge and her co-founder and husband, Isaac Squires, on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list last year.
If you ever begged Santa for a Teddy Ruxpin when you were a kid, then Ubooly will likely appeal to the grown-up toy geek in you. The phone and tablet-based stuffed toy goes far beyond popping a cassette tape in a teddy bear and watching him make random mouth movements to a non-interactive story. Though you still have to insert the phone into the body of the animal, Ubooly uses the WiFi and GPS technology in mobile devices and tablets to actually interact with users through hundreds of activities that are wirelessly updated every week, including teaching languages to—yes—telling Teddy Ruxpin-style stories. And Ubooly gets smarter over time, so it grows as children grow.
Gloge has gotten smarter over time, too—or at least wiser. “What I’ve learned is that you have to trust yourself,” she said. “When I first started working on Ubooly, I would to try to look at what everyone else had done that was successful and recreate it. What I really realized was that I had already had a ton of entrepreneurial experiences that I could pull from in everyday life.”
There’s no doubt about that. Ubooly isn’t the first company Gloge has founded. In 2007, she started Warb, a Boulder-based design firm that builds websites and mobile apps (among other things) for international clients.
“I’ve always been different and I don’t quite fit into the norms,” she has said. “Being an entrepreneur, I’m allowed to grow faster than I would otherwise, and I can actually have a huge impact on the world with my actions."