Innovations We Love: November

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  • by Courtney PeGan Stevens

Preparing for another COVID winter doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. In this month’s installment of Innovations We Love, our Senior Vice President of Operations, Courtney PeGan Stevens, takes a look at innovations that are trying to make the most of staying inside at home this winter. From improving the quality of Zoom interactions to safely engineering indoor play spaces to introducing new virtual entertainment options, we love the brands delivering new ideas and products aimed to make the winter months inside more bearable. 

INNOVATION: Follow by Edgee 

Why We Love It:  With so many social interactions happening over FaceTime and Zoom, it makes sense to invest in tools that improve that experience and interaction. This motion-tracking phone mount does just that by improving the quality of the video feed AND freeing up hands for more multi-tasking and/or show & tell. It’s like having your own camera crew at home while taking video calls; the secure facial recognition software smoothly follows subjects to ensure they stay in frame even when moving around.  I can see this innovation improving quality time with loved ones by allowing fewer interruptions to video conversations and hands-free ability to showcase different aspects of home life.  This can be a gamechanger for remote holiday dinners or gift exchanges. 

INNOVATION: The Fisher-Price Toy Museum

Why We Love It:  I’ve heard about “Instagrammable Museums” but never a museum exclusively on Instagram…until now. Mattel just launched the Fisher-Price Toy Museum, hosted exclusively on Instagram, to celebrate their 90-year history. Featuring 90 unique “exhibits” grouped by decade, you can spend hours scrolling through this online museum getting reacquainted with old toys and memories. I can see this being a fun screen-share activity with multiple generations of family members sharing memories and comparing toys across the decades. And, like their Instagram Story says, this online museum is always open, so you can visit whenever you like. 

INNOVATION: The “Stairslide” Indoor Slide for Stairs

Why We Love It: Sliding down flights of stairs using an old refrigerator box (or heck, even just a bare belly most days!) was absolutely a rite of passage I remember from childhood. From the rug burned tummies to the ripped holes in our sleeping bags to the bumps and bruises along the way, turning your stairs into a slide was a dangerous game. Alas! A couple dads used their time in quarantine to create a stair-slide solution that is both fun for the kids and much safer than other homemade alternatives. This kickstarter was fully funded in 2 hours, which made me smile to know that imagining your home as a playground is still a thing, even in this digital age. Hopefully this new innovation delivers on all the fun with fewer tearful mishaps as the little ones burn off excess energy inside this winter.   

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INNOVATION: The Toniebox for Screen-Free Songs and Storytime 

Why We Love It: Keeping little ones safely entertained AND limiting their screen time will be a challenge this winter. The Toniebox is a screen-free digital listening toy designed to foster imagination through storytelling and even has the power to connect loved ones from afar. 

The Toniebox comes to life when paired with one of the whimsical, hand painted “Tonie” figurines, each loaded with hours of stories to tell, songs to sing, and worlds to explore. Content Tonies include popular stories and songs from Disney, Pixar, Scholastic Books, Macmillan Children’s Books, and Universal Music Group. Creative Tonies allow users to create their own 90minute listening experience, giving family members from afar the opportunity to participate in storytime anytime and giving children a creative platform to perform their own stories and songs. I particularly love imagining the Creative Tonies as an innovative type of mixtape you can make for the little listeners in your life.  

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INNOVATION: Virtual Visits with Santa by JingleRing

Why We Love It:  One person hit particularly hard by the pandemic is Santa; he has some pre-existing conditions that make in-person parties and mall gigs a real challenge during this pandemic. But, never fear! The folks at JingleRing have a virtual alternative for those still craving a little time with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Like a Zoom call with Santa, but better, parents can personalize the experience by completing a family profile in advance, even choosing preferences for ethnicity, language (including ASL), and faith. They even have a “Sensitive Santa” available for children with special needs.  This Atlanta based company has been delivering the Santa Spirit virtually for over ten years now, so they have an established network that can handle the increased demand of 2020.

What are some innovative ways you’ve seen brands and companies step in to help their consumers cope with more time isolated and indoors?  Let’s keep the conversation going. Join us on LinkedIn or email me directly: