In the words of Zoolander, #KidTech is so hot right now! That is why it was so great to take a pause from the hum drum of Retail Tech conversation and dive head first into the world of Technology Will Save Us.
Founded by Bethany Koby and Daniel Hirschmann, Technology Will Save Us (TWSU) is a start-up tech company that is located in east London. Known as pioneers of technology education, I knew I had to meet them. So the night before the second day of Decoded Fashion, I found myself whispering in a few ears to try and arrange a meeting with either Ms Bethany Kobe or Mr Daniel Hirschmann. Luckily I was able to do so, but on the day of the interview I got held up, which left Daniel waiting patiently for my arrival at the mentor hub. When I finally got to the venue, 5 minutes later, Daniel was introduced to a slightly flustered version of myself, but I was glad to see that he had a big welcoming smile. As we shook hands, I looked around for a quiet place where we could talk about how technology and design can empower today’s children.
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Sitting down in a quiet corner, it didn’t take long before Daniel and I fell into an easy conversation. As I listened to him talk passionately about how important it is for children to build a relationship with technology, I could not help but agree. As we continued to talk, Daniel pointed out his frustration at how the current education system seems to have taken the slow lane when it comes to educating technology to children. “Kids are natural absorbers of technology”, and then taking a pause, he added, “therefore we need to expose them to technology whilst they are still fearless”.
I think many early adopters would agree with Daniel’s thought process, but the problem is finding a solution that is realistic, which is where I think TWSU steps in. By holding workshops and such, Daniel explained that they are proving that “technological tools should be as useful as a paper and pen”. An interesting way of putting it, so I asked him to elaborate. Clearing his throat, he continued, “Being creative with technology is not about making a YouTube video, it’s about being able to create something from scratch”. I couldn’t disagree with that, but I wondered whether he had taken into account that not every child or even parent will automatically think, hey lets create something from scratch, so how can we get round that? With a ready answer, he explained, “It is about addressing a big missing part of the market which plays a part in the divide between parents and children when it comes to technology and therefore it is all about creating dialogue.” Fiddling with a device that he had in his hands he continued “We give parents tools and talking points that will help them understand how technology will play a part in their children’s life”.
Although not a parent myself (yet), I understood his logic. Technology isn’t going anywhere, so it is imperative that the next generation gets excited about innovation so they are ready to explore it’s capabilities. But before we can get parents on board I had to first ask about price. Are their products accessible to all? Nodding his head, he confidently stated that they try to make sure that they are affordable. Priced between £15- £65, I agreed that TWSU products were definitely affordable and it wasn’t long before our conversation was steered in the direction of TWSU partnership with The Princes Trust.
For those who don’t know, The Prince’s Trust is a youth charity that helps young people aged 13 to 30 get into jobs, education and training. Daniel explained that working with the charity allowed them to engage with the hard to reach younger people. As soon as they started their workshops, it wasn’t long before they became one of the most engaging programs at The Princes Trust. On this Daniel shared, that there was one memorable kid who had worked on a device from scratch and on completition her reaction was “This shit is sick.” As I laughed out loud at the story he admitted that it was that kind of excited approval from the kids that drove him to continue his work. “It is important that kids connect with technology, because it is about the empowerment of children. We need to make them feel like that they can do this so they can build lasting relationships with technology”.
It was those words that hit home. I knew then that I was in the company of a man who knew what he was talking about. He wasn’t feeding me the usual PR parrot to press, speech, he was speaking from the heart. It was because of this that I found myself wanting to hear more. So I asked him, “Ok, so your objective is clear and you are achieving it, but lets get down to basics, what inspires you when it comes to the design of your product?” Before he answered he brought the little device he had been playing with since we started talking to my attention. It was their latest invention. “Children are at the heart of what we design”. He continued, “We want to introduce them to the kind of product that they themselves can turn into whatever they want it to be.” I liked the idea of giving a child the space to think. I do strongly believe that we should not always readily give kids the finished device, like an iPad, we should instead challenge them to think outside the box. This was a point that we discussed at length. In the end, we both agreed that it all comes down to understanding that “kids should be the inventors and not us” so therefore we should encourage the kind of active play that allows a child to explore the idea of making their own wearables.
It was then that we realised that our 20 minute interview had turned into an hour of insightful discussion and that it was time to wind things down. Before we said our goodbyes, we randomly found ourselves talking about the Walkman, the Apple Watch and the excitement we once felt over our Nokia phones. It was as we shared childhood memories of the technology we grew up with, that I came to the conclusion that Daniel Hirschmann was a man who practiced what he preached. He was vocal about making sure that TWSU taught children how to respect technology. That being said he did confess that he also accepted that when it comes to a child’s brain space their innovation is in competition with the likes of One Direction. Not deterred, the husband and wife team, are driven to continue to encourage kids of all ages to explore the wonders of technology, because, like the man said himself, before he stood up to go to his next meeting, “In the end technology might not save us, but how we use it certainly will”.
Want to show your support? Then be sure to take a moment to check out Technology Will Save Us latest Kickstarter campaign.