Israel’s Touchoo proposes a publishing platform that will allow traditional children’s books to get covered in (sticky) digital fingerprints.
By Rivka Borochov
Parents and grandparents with the latest gadgets and gizmos might find their tiny tots and grand-tots trying to wiggle them out of adult hands. Going way beyond kid-proof protectors for iPhones and other touch-screen devices, the Israeli company Touchoo wants to let kids, even tiny ones, interact with new technologies safely and smartly.
The company is developing touch-screen apps for toddlers and preschoolers to transform traditional kids’ books into interactive stories.
Touchoo’s CEO Omer Ginor has a sort of at-home laboratory to study how children interact with touch-screen devices. His 18-month-old toddler quickly figured out that Daddy’s iPad was more fun to play with than eat. "My kid loves my iPad," he says. "Believe me, I am not a techie, nor am I trying to get my kid to be tech savvy, but I happen to have an iPad and iPhone at home and every time he sees them he throws a fit because he loves them so much. He knows how to navigate, to flip pages, and is touching the interactive parts to make things happen, choosing the things that he likes."
And while parents might be giving their little ones the iPhone "Angry Birds" game to play, Ginor says it does not provide any real value to the child. "There is no imagination, no learning, no journey achieved through the game. It can only go so far. A lot of parents we talked to prefer their kids to have something of quality with added value, and book apps are that," he says. "Having something on your touch platform is interactive, appealing and immersive, high in quality with added value."
Ginor and his 10-person team at Touchoo are developing a launching platform for publishers so that millions of children’s books from traditional publishers can get covered in digital fingerprints, no matter how sticky.
Omer Ginor explains Touchoo’s app that helps publishers create children’s books for
Publishing straight to the touch screen
Parents are getting lost among too many children’s book and game application choices from the iPhone store, Ginor argues. "There are 350,000 apps and if yours isn’t in the top 25, it gets lost and is forgotten quickly. Publishers that have invested money in developing their book generally don’t recoup their loss." Only companies with strong brands like Disney and Sesame Street are getting recognized, and of course books from world-famous authors such as Dr. Seuss.
Touchoo aims to be the one-stop provider of a technical tool so that authors or publishing houses, along with designers, can create quick and interactive stories out of existing content. Independent children’s book writers can forego the avenue of traditional publishing houses altogether, if they choose.
In the world of touch-screen books, some content owners may create a book where the children interact by touching illustrations on the screen. Others highlight words in the story, and when the children touch them, the illustrations appear. Some pages are completely animated; others are static for reading out loud. The books can even be of the choose-your-own-adventure variety.
While Touchoo has its own books available for download, the company is focused on technology rather than creating content. "We have done a bit of content creation in our embryonic stage, but this is not the goal," Ginor says.
Creating digital assets
Who comprises Touchoo’s market? "Intellectual property holders, publishers, organizations – from big publishers to independent people," says Ginor. "Right now they are faced with two problems: It’s hard to create something of high quality and which works across platforms using touch-screen. Even when the app is made, the publisher doesn’t solve the problem of distribution. Most are using iTunes. Ours is a book app that works on iPad and Android."
Creating digital assets from traditional ones requires a lot of capital and most companies don’t have that kind of resource, says Ginor. His technology allows for a quick and easy integration, with added help from child psychologists who have provided advice, to result in a touch-screen children’s book that appeals to the senses and sensibilities of children at any age.
Based in Ramat Gan, Touchoo was founded in 2010 and is self-financed. The plan is to turn a profit using a revenue-sharing model. Licensees will be free to use the software, with a percentage of revenues going to Touchoo for every book download.
The IP holder, Ginor assures, will retain intellectual property rights and will not be required to work exclusively with Touchoo, which has big plans in store to help distribute content through third-party networks like cell-phone providers.
Though the application could theoretically be applied to any sort of interactive book or material, Touchoo is "focusing on one nice market. We are spearheading into children’s books where the market need is most severe."