The Octopus watch might make a responsible person out of your kid

Kids don't even need to be able to read to use it.

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The Octopus watch might make a responsible person out of your kid

I'm no parent, but I was sort of a lazy jerk as a child. While I eventually got my act together, I have to wonder if having something like the Octopus watch as a wee lad might have helped. Unlike other smartwatches for youngsters, which usually focus on keeping them connected or entertained, the Octopus was instead designed to build and reinforce good habits on a regular schedule.

Gallery: Hands-on: the Octopus watch | 5 Photos


Let's say your tyke doesn't brush their teeth every night before bed. You could use the Octopus companion app to add a toothbrushing task, prompting an icon to appear on the kid's wearable at the same time every day. That iconography is crucial, by the way: JOY, the startup behind the watch, designed it so kids who can't read yet can still glance at and understand the reminders their parents have set for them. When the task is complete, the child taps the watch's single button to mark it complete, and they get a little celebratory animation. You know that strange sort of joy that comes with ticking a to-do off a list? That's sort of what the team is trying to invoke here.

Even better, the watch is meant to grow with these kids too. Four-year-olds would probably just appreciate the watch's colorful screen and bright bodies -- not to mention the octopus-shaped nightlight/charger combo -- but an eight-year-old might enjoy the level of self-sufficiency it offers. They have their daily schedules, just like grown-ups, and accessing them by way of some cool hardware like their parents could foster a greater sense of self-sufficiency. After first struggling to manage a bunch of tiny cousins running around, my go-to strategy became treating them like tiny adults. So far it's gone well because I'm recognizing their agency, and the watch operates on a similar concept.

The Octopus is also just a cool-looking piece of kit. I couldn't actually fit the diminutive band around by wrist, but it's for kids under nine or so. As you'd expect from a wearable that stands a better than average chance of being lost or destroyed, the JOY team didn't go crazy with the components. The screen is colorful but low-res and the single button was a little tough to press on some of the team's show floor demo models. On the flipside, though, it looks sort of like an Apple Watch... if Apple had farmed the production process out to Fisher-Price. The startup completed a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, but with any luck, the device will be hitting doorsteps soon; we're told shipping is set to begin this March.

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