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Software for babies


Hi all,

I have a baby girl (1 year and 2 months old) and she likes to play with my computer. Ok, play may not be the better term, rather bang the keyboard and mouse.
I often open up the notepad or a DOS game, put her on my lap and let her press the keys freely. But the problem is that some special keys call Windows menu and change the window focus.
I had the idea of developing a special software, running on full screen, that would play different sounds at each key pressed and show funny images/pictures.
Do you think it would be marketeable? Thing is, may baby is growing up fast ans I fear she will lost interest on it soon. But it would be nice to develop it as a new product. What do you think? Does anyone have experience on developing software for kids?

Mauricio Macedo
Friday, March 05, 2004

1. have idea
2. describe it on JoS
3. ?
4. Other people profit!

standard slashback
Friday, March 05, 2004

This rings a bell; I think another JoSer already did something like this for his children...

Patrik
Friday, March 05, 2004

There was some software project that did exactly what you describe a few years ago in The Delphi Magazine. I can't remember the name of it though.

Have you thought about giving her a copy of Visual Studio .NET to play with?

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Friday, March 05, 2004

standard slashback: Ideas are a dime a dozen. If someone knows a similar software (I searched) I will just use and entertain my baby. I doubt people are eager to put up at least 50 hours of work in any unproven idea found on discussion fora.

Mauricio Macedo
Friday, March 05, 2004

When my 8 year old was a baby I had some DOS shareware program that is exactly what you described.  The baby would bang on the keyboard and shapes with noises would appear.  The kid wasn't anymore impressed with that than a plain DOS prompt.  I finally just handed him a old broken keyboard and he was just as ammused with that.

It is amazing how quickly they get the ctrl-alt-del sequence down and other destructive combinations.

Bill Rushmore
Friday, March 05, 2004

Bill: this is what I fear, that she is more interested on the keyboard itself than anything on the screen or sounds.

I think I just found a software that does what I described, it's called Baby Wow!
http://www.kidsclick.com/descrip/my1st_toddler.htm

I'm thinking about developing BabyTap just for kicks, as it would be my first multimedia application, besides beating the record of my youngest customer ever (nice for chit-chat conversations).

Mauricio Macedo
Friday, March 05, 2004

Don't ask me how I found it :)

"This program creates a simple, safe and kid-friendly environment to let toddlers pound on the keyboard and play with the mouse. It temporarily disables the Windows key, and hides the other windows to prevent your baby from accidentally reconfiguring anything. It's highly customizable, and recommended by my 18-month old."

http://download.com.com/3000-2132-10126316.html?tag=lst-0-1

Yeah, I wanna tell you how I found it. I wanted to remap a key  (dot to comma) and I came across that program at download.com. Funny.

Dewd
Friday, March 05, 2004

I did the same as some others here.  An old keyboard and my first born was as happy as a clam.  Now, however, the second one wants to play with it too... I need to find another old keyboard!

Happy to be working
Friday, March 05, 2004

No. No. No. Don't give her a copy of .NET. Bad idea.

It's bad enough that our jobs are going to Indian adults. Do we really need to be completing with their children too?

njkayaker
Friday, March 05, 2004

"This program creates a simple, safe and kid-friendly environment to let toddlers pound on the keyboard and play with the mouse. It temporarily disables the Windows key, and hides the other windows to prevent your baby from accidentally reconfiguring anything. It's highly customizable, and recommended by my 18-month old."



This would be a good sys admin tool as well

apw
Friday, March 05, 2004

Commodore 64 had several such programs when my kids were young. "Mimi the Ant", press a key and a butterfly flits across the screen along with some music. Press a different key and it's a snail with it's own theme music.

There was a draw program that let you type m to move, d to draw, c to change colors, stuff like that. One time when my son was about 4 he got into the draw program. I left the room to go take a shower or something and when I returned the screen was full of shapes and colors. I said, "Wow, that's great, how did you do that?"

The kid takes the keyboard in hand and bashes it into his forehead several times. Bam, bam, bam, bam. Shapes and colors galore.

old_timer
Friday, March 05, 2004

Oh yeah, forgot to mention, eighteen years later he goes to college to major in computer graphics...

And after discovering the true nature of computer graphics he switched to physical therapy...

old_timer
Friday, March 05, 2004

http://www.raize.com/CProducts/BabyType/Default.htm

JT
Friday, March 05, 2004

Thank you all for you input, and interesting enough there is an old thread on this forum mentioning Maddie and BabyType

Keyboard Pounder Sources available
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=11236

Now on to just drop the idea and use existing software.

Mauricio Macedo
Friday, March 05, 2004

I gave my daugher a spare keyboard and mouse to play (uh hm. i mean use) while daddy or mommy is on the computer.

One thing to watch out for, our floppy drive got crammed full of pennies and other assorted crap because if daddy can put stuff in their, so can I.

pdq
Friday, March 05, 2004

We had something similar.  A couple of years ago my youngest attacked the floppy drive of one machine with the stick from a lollipop.  Apparently he kept losing at Space Invaders and felt it was the machine's fault. 

a cynic writes...
Friday, March 05, 2004

My son's favorite game with the PC was called "shove small things into the floppy drive."  He thought it was loads of fun.

Keep your kids away from the PC.  They'll have plenty of time to do that later in life.

Nick
Friday, March 05, 2004

I see that pdq and cynic were thinking the same thing as me.  Honestly, if you want your kid to bang on something that makes noise, get her a Leap Pad or a kitten [ha ha, just kidding PETA members].

Nick
Friday, March 05, 2004

Dad,where are you?
Mom is calling you.
OH! NO! I can't repeat what all she is saying...
Dad,Come soon or you gonna have hard time today.
Hurry up!

My-dad-is-lost
Friday, March 05, 2004

"Honestly, if you want your kid to bang on something that makes noise, get her a Leap Pad or a kitten"

Even the most expensive computer keyboard is like $60, so why not leverage the powerful, multimedia, interactive device that we have in the form of computers (I wouldn't do this with a laptop unless you had an external keyboard). I got my 1 year old daughter the "My First Leap Pad", and honestly the flat, Atari 400-esque surface is far too difficult to push -- there is no chance her tiny fingers are going to be able to push them hard enough.

Dennis Forbes
Friday, March 05, 2004

You're probably right, Dennis.  I've always steered away from the things myself, because I'd rather buy my kids things that stimulate their imagination and creativity.

At the age that all they can do is bang on the keyboard, there are so many other things they should and could be doing instead of sitting in front of a PC (even if they enjoy it).

Nick
Friday, March 05, 2004

Dennis,

We have tons of old keyboards at the office, it was basically free. Or, at the house, we have a Pentium 3, an old Celeron, a 486 and I think we have a 286 out in a box in the garage. She could bang on the 486 keyboard to hearts content.

Now, she's old enough and has the Celeron to play games on.

pdq
Friday, March 05, 2004

A bit left field, but I suggest Knoppix. If you don't know it's a bootable version of linux on a CD. The great thing about Knoppix is that you can't really do any damage to the system as the CD is read only.

So you just insert a CD and let your baby bash away. Should your baby manage to crash something just reboot and everything is back as before.

http://www.knoppix.org/

If Knoppix is a bit too large for you to install check out Damn Small Linux  http://www.knoppix.org/ it's only 50 meg.

Matthew Lock
Friday, March 05, 2004

Both my niece and nephew played for a couple months with old keyboards I gave them.  It was the pushing the keys that seemed to entertain them the most--the way they sprang right back, and made a little clicky noise.

My nephew didn't actually get interested in making something happen on screen until he was about four, when Bob the Builder showed up there.  Now he's about to turn six, and he boots it up, puts the CD in, plays it, and shuts it down all by himself.

Justin Johnson
Friday, March 05, 2004

i have once made a paint program for smaller kids.

http://www.michaelmoser.org/progs/app_pnty.htm

- you don't have to press the mouse down while dragging the paint tool, everything is kind of modal with huge buttons, etc.

Michael Moser
Sunday, March 07, 2004

My son, then 2yrs, saw me writing a spec in MS Word.  He had to bang the keyboard.  Font was too small, 72 point, wrong colour, pick one.  He really quickly learnt to spell Thomasthetankengine and Connor.

He then moved to IE and thomasthetankengine.com and such. 

I learnt that the really useful part was me spending time with him and not working all the time.

David

David Freeman
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Well, I like the Maddie program. And it seems that most of you tend to forget that children are different. The guy starting this topic have a daughter that wants more than just bang the keyboard:

"Hi all,

I have a baby girl (1 year and 2 months old) and she likes to play with my computer. Ok, play may not be the better term, rather bang the keyboard and mouse.
I often open up the notepad or a DOS game, put her on my lap and let her press the keys freely. But the problem is that some special keys call Windows menu and change the window focus.
I had the idea of developing a special software, running on full screen, that would play different sounds at each key pressed and show funny images/pictures. "

- I too tried giving my 1½ year old son a keyboard, but i wasn't interesting enough (Gues it wasn't the same as daddy was doing).

So try to give a solution to the question asked. If I was asking for where to find a cheap trip to jamaica, I wouldn't like an answer as "Try to go to beach, it's warm there too". So... Thanks for Maddie, and stop parenting other parents - but be contructive instead!

Kim. E. Linnet
Saturday, April 03, 2004

May be that is what you are looking for: http://www.dimadsoft.com/kids ?

The program was written for the kid of about the same age - for my doughter when she was one year old. I was also looking around, but could not find any progy that will show "nice" images.

She had a lot of interest for this for another year for sure. Not everyday of course, but time to time. Well there was more images/sounds then available in download, but it is easy to add new ones.

If previously she was more after images and sounds, now she tryes to read as well.

Dimad
Monday, April 05, 2004

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