When Apps Go Beyond Screens

10/21/2014 04:54 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

2014-10-20-tigglycounts.jpg

As, parents, schools and early learning spaces continue to explore and experiment as they try to make sense of these new digital tools there are an increasing number of innovators and inventors trying to find ways to make the touchscreen more than it is. How do we foster open-ended play and connect to the fine and gross motor skills of younger children? What might that look like? As is so often the case, it is the smaller start ups who are pushing the boundaries. One of those start ups is Tiggly.

Tiggly have extended upon their original Tiggly Shapes product and have just released a new series called Tiggly Counts, which coincides with a significant investment from a European backer. It means that the early childhood education and play space is continue to lead the way in terms of looking beyond the screen and into what touch screens and apps can be beyond their first incarnation.

Tiggly develop apps, but they design them alongside beautifully design physical accessories (or appcessories) that interact with the touchscreen and facilitate a play experience that can live both on and off the screen. The appcessories are toys in their own right that can be chewed, traced and would look at home in any toybox. They are the type of products that interact with a screen that bigger players in the market like Fisher Price who should be offering to young children and families, but few are matching the quality of Tiggly products.

Their physical shapes, and now counting rods are aesthetically beautiful, the textures and feel are excellent for little hands still mastering fine motor skills and they offer a new and tangible way to interact with a touchscreen interface that should help those struggling with concepts of screen time and the fact interactive screens are different to television to see a glimpse at the potential of judicious design and play for children using digital environments.

The new Tiggly Counts for iPad as a physical toy builds well on the counting rod concept that parents will remember from their school days. They have accompanying apps (which are free when you have the products) that offer counting experiences in different ways. Obviously the challenge in development is to create stories and learning experiences that last beyond the mechanic of touching the counting rods on the screen.

Tiggly are leading in a space where others are destined to follow. The challenge will be, as it is with all developers exploring how they diversify across platforms and make the most of the iPad market. But, a product that works with a touchscreen that requires no batteries or Bluetooth syncing or even wifi connection makes it perfect for the target audience.