A Lancaster man had a duke in developing what’s billed as “the hottest tech toy on the internet.”
The Talkie, a costly toy with a Wi-Fi affiliation capability, is aimed at accouchement ages 2 to 8.
Toymail, the start-up aggregation abaft it, has admiring abetment from Verizon and Amazon. Toymail architect Gauri Nanda pitched the toy aftermost ages on ABC’s ambitious absoluteness appearance “Shark Tank,” and two of the broker panelists were afflicted abundant to accomplish $600,000 for a 5 percent pale in the business.
Lancaster citizen Joel Wehr helped architecture the chip of the ascendancy box central the Talkie. A systems ambassador by day, he founded a aggregation alleged MakeDeck a few years ago. Toymail is one of his clients.
“I’ve consistently been absorbed in computers and electronics,” he said. He has been alive with Toymail on the Talkie’s belly for about two years, he said, advance and adorning the architecture — “making it assignment better, authoritative the complete cleaner, abacus added features.”
How Talkie works
A adolescent application the toy can accelerate a articulation bulletin to a parent’s or caregiver’s cellphone, and the developed can respond. Added apps accord accouchement admission to stories, songs and educational games.
An accelerometer lets the toy acknowledge to movement; so, for example, it can “awaken” aback it’s best up.
The Talkie has a account amount of $59. It’s accessible through Amazon and on Toymail’s website, toymail.co.
Parents set up the account of accustomed contacts, and advice is secure. There’s no screen, which Toymail says makes the Talkie developmentally adapted for baby children.
A adolescent controls the toy via two buttons in the back. In aboriginal versions, those were active to the electronics and sewn in, Wehr said. Now everything’s in a independent disposable assemblage alleged a Talkiebox. It can be swapped in and out of the costly shells, alleged “skins.”
More upgrades to the Talkiebox are in the offing, Wehr said, as Toymail works to accommodate the Talkie with Amazon’s Alexa voice-recognition agenda assistant.
Where accretion and electronics meet
Wehr, 41, said he’s abundantly self-taught. His alcove is “the internet of things” — the apple of altar with internet connections.
For those altar to work, engineers accept to architecture and affairs ambit boards to construe software inputs and outputs into real-world effects. For example, one year Wehr programmed his Christmas timberline lights to beam every time accession tweeted “Merry Christmas” online.
The belvedere Wehr uses is Electric Imp. The aggregation sells Wi-Fi accouterments and provides the software, billow accretion and added assets developers charge to adapt operation and accomplish the online functionality work.
In accession to his home workshop, Wehr has a board at make717, the “makerspace” that opened at 1100 E. Orange St. in abatement 2015. For bodies absorbed in tech, make717 is a abundant abode to get started, he said.
The age bracket Toymail is targeting “is a huge beginning market,” Nanda told the “Shark Tank” panel.
Nanda projects sales of $2.5 actor over the abutting year and $12 actor the year afterwards that.
The babe of Indian immigrants, Nanda has degrees from the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
While in alum school, she created Clocky, an anxiety alarm outfitted with auto so it can run away, banishment the user to deathwatch up in adjustment to stop it from ringing. It’s awash through an beforehand aggregation she founded, Nanda Home.
In a blog post, she said she spent 72 hours practicing for “Shark Tank,” “breaking alone to ability nap.” The presentation was “a blur,” she said. She recalls her face affliction “because I hadn’t accomplished my face to smile for that long.”
Toymail began aircraft the accepted bearing of Talkies in November and has awash 20,000 to date, she told the tech website TechCrunch.
An online abundance featuring Talkie apps will be launched in the abutting three to four months, Nanda said.
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