Anyone who has children, or has young kids in their family, knows the frustrations that come with staying in touch. You want to talk to them, and they want to talk to you, but you're not always together and they are too darn young to be trusted with a cell phone of their own. Parents wind up becoming glorified secretaries for their kids, managing the flow of incoming and outgoing calls with family and friends. Blegh.
A new startup called Insensi aims to simplify the kiddie communications conundrum. Founded last year by Ilan Abehassera, the New York City-based company has created ILY, a device that acts as a central communications hub for your kids. It allows your children to make and receive phone and video calls with family and close friends. Here's a quick look at what ILY does:
No parents or other adults neccesary. At least not after ILY is all set up.
With its 8-inch touchscreen, ILY connects to the Internet either by hardline or Wi-Fi and can essentially replace a landline phone by plugging your phone cable into the device. Parents program the contacts their child is allowed to contact and receive messages from. Not everyone needs an ILY device. Your contacts simply need to have the ILY app on the smartphones (Android and iOS) or desktop in order to start chatting.
In addition to sending voice and video calls, ILY is able to send photos, drawings (made right on ILY via the touchscreen), play music and record video messages and notes (such as shopping lists, etc.). While connected to the Internet, ILY doesn't have a web browser, so there's no way for children to surf the web or download any questionable content. Parents can see a record of the daily communications over ILY, meaning you can see who you kids are chatting with, how and for how long.
Worth noting: This first version of ILY isn't mobile. The device is intended to stay put inside your house. If your child is old enough to leave the house on his or her own but still not old enough -- in your opinion -- to have a cell phone, ILY won't fill of all your child's communications needs.
Abehassera -- who co-founded task management app Producteev in 2008 -- says he and his team has spent the last 14 months developing ILY. The idea came after countless nights traveling for work and having to bug his wife to wrangle up his kids to talk via her cell phone. Not to mention having to arrange times for granparents and other family members to call, he says.
ILY is available for pre-order starting today for $199. Abehassera says ILY is expected to begin shipping this fall, when it will retail for somewhere between $250 and $300.