How One Startup is Driving Acceleration of IoT
IoTUK met Salma Khattab, an innovator looking at how advances in technology can help working parents get a good work/life balance. She has created Let’s Play Coworking, a social impact business that allows parents to work in a coworking space while their child is entertained – and monitored by the latest IoT tech.
Juggling children and work is a challenge for many families. A recent report from the Equality and Human Rights commission (EHRC) has shown that many employers are still reticent about employing pregnant women and parents with young children. Alongside this, the cost of childcare can be very high, and many families can’t have one parent stay at home, or want to keep on working outside of the home after baby arrives. To allow parents additional flexibility in looking after their child, many are asking to work remotely or choosing to start their own businesses and freelance careers.
Our startup is working to change the way working parents manage work and childcare responsibilities.
Let’s Play Workspaces is an early stage social impact business based in Oxford. We’ve developed Let’s Play Coworking; child-friendly workspaces where parents can work in the same space as their young children engage in STEAM focused learning and play activities. This provides a much more productive working environment than working from home.
But where does the internet of things come into it?
There are intelligent devices to monitor, track, and optimise everything from sleep and feeding schedules, engagement with the learning and development activities, and even the working parents’ day plans. We are utilising this baby tech, nursery tech, edu tech and other IoT related industries to give parents and their children the highest quality service, in terms of work productivity for the parents and caregiving and learning and development for the children. These devices are also invaluable to the working parent who wants to know what’s happening with their child. The coworking space also serves as a play lab, accelerating the growth and innovation of these tech sectors by providing a real world environment where the tech can be trialled by parents and kids.
We can correlate reduced work productivity to an interrupted nap caused by a baby being fed through a bottle held at the wrong angle. An educational toy for a toddler with speech delay can be better designed based on direct user feedback that is gathered by a smart wearable sock that assesses the child’s heart rate and when the child is experiencing any frustrations with the toy. When all of these insights are captured securely in a non-intrusive and natural environment used by hundreds of parents and their children- with the ultimate goal to help working parents and their children – the IoT product development cycle benefits, with real feedback feeding into a better final product for the parents.
In addition, mainstream parents and caregivers become early adopters, with firsthand exposure to these smart products. The IoT startups don’t just get essential user feedback, they have the opportunity to educate potential customers, decrease adoption times, and increase sales of related products This is brilliant for early stage IoT providers, building traction and a stronger case for funding.
As a mum of two children, I haven’t really been exposed to smart devices that can actually make my parenting easier or can provide me with useful information about my children’s behaviours. What is the real value of a tracker that calculates how many minutes my baby did not sleep, if the I still cannot answer the question why to prevent it from occurring the following night? And even more disappointing, is that when I do come across a useful product, I can’t afford it.
The hope is that with enough exposure, enough testing, and enough user feedback taking place in a natural environment, parents and children will have access to the smarter, more useful, and more affordable products that they deserve.
We are currently selecting IoT partners who want to beta test their devices, get real-time user feedback, and benefit from the holistic data-centric approach to understanding how seemingly unrelated actions and behaviours can have an impact on each other. If that sounds like you, I’d love to have chat!
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