One way to tackle the harmful gender disparity in tech is to make technology fun and compelling for young girls. We love this approach, and are happy to introduce you to a wearable tech startup that has created wearable toys to help teach kids how to code. We caught up with Linkitz’s founder Lyssa Neel to learn more.
Linkitz makes wearables for kids. Our first product is a kit that lets kids make their own wearables. It was designed to appeal to girls ages 4-8 by fitting into activities that they already enjoy. Our tests shows that boys like Linkitz too, and that’s great!
Some wearables that a kid can create with Linkitz are: a shoe clip that lights up in her team colors when the wearer kicks a ball down the soccer field, a wristband that turns a game of “Miss Mary Mack” into a rave with lights and sounds that keep time to hand-clapping, a bracelet that lets her send and receive secret messages coded in light and sound, a walkie-talkie headband, and a friendship bracelet that can sense when her friends are nearby and light up to celebrate their friendship.
Linkitz lets kids create their own tech, where imagination is their only limit.
What inspired you to start Linkitz?
It’s no secret that the tech field is not very gender diverse. Studies have pointed to a number of reasons for this, and one reason is that the toys we give to girls, from a very young age, don’t feature technology as a central theme. There are some great technology toys on the market, but these are designed for a predominantly solitary play style, whereas developmentally, most girls in our target age group enjoy social and collaborative play. This leaves girls without a toy that lets them experiment with technology in a way that specifically connects to their interests and play styles.
Our goal was to create a toy that encouraged young girls to explore technology in a hands-on way. We wanted to incorporate a social element, and market research showed that many girls like making and wearing friendship bracelets. So we starting thinking about creating an electronic friendship bracelet.
What sets Linkitz apart from other wearable companies?
What makes Linkitz different from any other wearable is that Linkitz are modular. The “Aha!” moment was realizing that each link in a bracelet could be a different electronic device. Interchangeable, snap-together links allow kids to experiment with electronics to create their own wearable toys, and to add new functionality as their interests, needs and technology change. This innovation enabled us to create a toy that lets kids build their own electronics by connecting the different components, just like they make friendship bracelets using different colors of beads.
What has been the hardest obstacle for you in creating Linkitz? What has been your favorite part?
Designing a wearable that can contain both all the electronics and a power source AND fit comfortably on a child was definitely a challenge. Our original trefoil design was not comfortable to wear in multiples, and even singly, it was kind of clunky. We were lucky to be introduced to a very talented design team in Vancouver, Woke Studio, who worked with us to come up with this design. Then our CTO, Drew Macrae, incredibly fit all the electronics into these tiny housings.
My favorite part is seeing the response we are getting from kids. We were at a Maker Faire recently, and kids just loved putting the different links together and seeing what toys they could make. Linkitz lets them experiment with making their own technology in a safe and age-appropriate way.
Where can we buy your product, when is it available, and what is the cost?
Linkitz can be pre-ordered now from our website and we’ve promised delivery by the holidays. A starter kit is $60 and our “Best Friends kit” is $250.
What can we expect next from Linkitz?
We have a lot of new links in our pipeline that will let kids make even more toys, as well as interact with connected devices. Stay tuned!
Find out more about Linkitz by checking out their website here.
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables. You look nice today!