Jooki is a Skylanders-inspired jukebox that will get your kids grooving

jooki kickstarter jukebox for kids 73e3d47849eb8f53ac7e2093fbcbee32 original
If Activision’s Skylanders and its many derivatives have taught the consumer tech industry anything, it’s that interactive figures sell like hotcakes. It’s not exactly surprising, then, that the concept’s slowly bled into other industries — Nintendo launched Amiibo, for instance, and Disney debuted the eponymous Disney Infinity. But some interactive toys have turned the concept on its head: They emphasize the physical world over the digital. One, a Kickstarter called Jooki, is a music box for kids.

Jooki’s concept will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s used an Amiibo. It’s a bright and bulbous blue-and-orange jukebox that looks sort of like an oversized lunchbox, and it ships with one plastic figurine and five flat, circular tokens — “stars” — with suction cups affixed to their posteriors. In its center sits an illuminated button, and placing the aforementioned figures — a blue whale, yellow fox, silver knight, or green dragon — atop it triggers the playback of a predefined song. Doing the same with a token, meanwhile, starts a playlist of ‘tunes, audio clips, albums, or radio stations.

fde114f28c2e20fd499957daed00988f_original

The idea was to make it easy for kids to play their favorite song without having to fiddle around with, say, a smartphone. To that end, Jooki replaces a digital display with the figurines, sports simple controls — a stop/pause button, fast forward, rewind, and volume adjustment — and, arguably most importantly, features an optional smartphone app that lets parents manage almost every facet of the listening experience. They can associate new songs, audiobooks, or albums with each figure, and control music playback. And if the kids are bound for someplace without readily available Wi-Fi, they can transfer local music from an iTunes account to the Jooki’s internal storage.

Thanks to wireless connectivity, the Jooki can act essentially as an external speaker, too. It’ll be compatible with music services like Spotify or Google Play Music, too, and it supports most radio services including streaming platforms like Soundcloud.”

c4e5d336f6af7760374236b619959407_original

Jooki’s the brainchild of Muuselabs co-founder Theo Marescaux, former product manager for digital cinema company Barco. His kids served as the primary inspiration for the toy. “My three-year-old daughter wanted me to play a specific song — Queen’s We Will Rock You — but because we don’t use CDs anymore, I had to go into my phone, look for the song, play it,” he told Digital Trends. “And even more frustratingly, I had to do it all again when she came back five minutes later and asked to hear it a second time.”

With the help of Will Moffat, a former Google employee, and Pieter Palmers, a Huawei engineer, Marescaux hacked together a prototype jukebox that relied on QR codes and webcams. A few years later, after bootstrapping the project with their own financing and receiving a grant from the European Union-backed European Pioneers, the team launched Jooki on Kickstarter.

3c8950d52aeb08a137072143d49fd393_original

Why Kickstarter? “We want to first focus on Kickstarter, understanding the feedback from the community, making any tweaks as plans to launch,” he explained. Their first priority: making sure Jooki delivers high-quality audio. “We don’t want it to sound like a toy. We’re focusing on summarizing what we have learned from the community and making sure we deliver a solid product with a solid first experience.”

As for the future, Marescaux believes that Jooki’s real growth potential is in its internet connectivity. “Because it’s connected, you can do simple gaming or leave messages,” he said — parents can leave friendly reminders for their kids, or daily digests in the form of voicemails, for example. “But the ideas for development are huge — we want to focus on delivering the core value of the product.” Marescaux sees especially big potential in a much older demographic, like elderly parents who aren’t as technologically savvy as their grandchildren.

Jooki’s retailing at the early bird price of 89 euros, or about $100. Once the initial Jooki’s ship to Kickstarter backers in June of next year, the team’s planning launches in hi-fi gadget stores and mainstream retail in the second half of 2017.

But its the early days, Marescaux said. “There’s a whole range of ideas that we have,” he said.

Computing

A ThinkPad tablet with a foldable screen could be in Lenovo’s future

Lenovo may be working on its own version of Project Andromeda. The company is reportedly working on a 13-inch tablet that can fold down to just nine inches for travel by leveraging LG Display's foldable screen technology.
Mobile

Strapped after your latest smartphone purchase? Check out our favorite MVNOs

Looking to switch from a major carrier to something a little more affordable? Luckily, there are a ton of great MVNO options to choose from. Check out our guide to the best MVNOs, from Boost Mobile to Google Project Fi.
Cars

‘Bloodhound’ rocket car needs a speedy cash injection to survive

The rocket-powered Bloodhound car has driven into difficulties, with the company behind the project needing a multi-million-dollar cash injection to save its dream of attempting a 1,000 mph land speed record.
Photography

Adobe’s Premiere Rush is a video-editing app designed for social media projects

At Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe unveiled updates across the board for all of its Creative Cloud apps, from the release of Premiere Rush CC, a social-focused video editor, to Project Gemini, a digital drawing and painting tool.
Mobile

The OnePlus 6T is coming a day earlier, event moved to October 29

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.
Mobile

Sprint now lets you add Hulu's Live TV service to your unlimited plan

Sprint recently introduced three new data plans to its roster -- Unlimited Basic , Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Premium. Here, we break down your options to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.
Photography

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…
Mobile

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.
Mobile

It’s about time! A USB-C magnetic charger for the Apple Watch has finally arrived

While most of the buzz surrounding Apple has been about the iPhone XR, the company also introduced a new Apple Watch accessory. Starting October 24, a USB-C magnetic charger will be available for purchase.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Product Review

Amazon’s child-friendly tablet is the complete package

Kids are tough on electronics and it’s difficult to police screen time and manage what they’re doing. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition could be the affordable answer to your prayers, with a rugged case and worry-free warranty.
Mobile

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs. P20 Pro: Which 2018 Huawei flagship is best for you?

If you're tempted by Huawei's latest flagship, the Mate 20 Pro, but you're uncertain how it differs from the P20 Pro which Huawei released earlier this year, then we have you covered. Find out exactly what sets these two phones apart.
Product Review

Simple, smart, and affordable, Google’s USB-C earbuds are a must-buy

Google’s follow-up to its wireless Pixel Buds are the wired Google Pixel USB-C earbuds. It’s the simpler route, but the earbuds are still smart, deliver good sound, and -- best of all -- they’re affordable.
Mobile

How to take great photos with the iPhone XS, Apple’s finest camera phone yet

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max feature the best cameras yet seen on an Apple smartphone, ready for you to get out and take great photos. Here's our guide to help ensure each shot you take is a winner.