Tactiles IQube REVIEW: crowdfunding & startup product testing

Crowdfunding is a great way for startups to raise awareness of their new products/ideas and to get funding from many people around the world. Crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter help startups to create a product campaign, to attract funding and to engage with customers/funders easily.

I have funded a few startups via crowdfunding sites this year. Almost a year ago I supported Tactiles IQube on Indiegogo. It has been interesting reading about this startup’s challenges and successes throughout the year via their sporadic email updates.  Their product is an electronics learning toy, similar to the popular LittleBits.

My IQube junior kit finally arrived this week, in a senior kit box. We tested it today and I’m certain my daughter will not be “playing” with it again!

BIGGEST ISSUE: the software crashes OFTEN!  Also, the majority of the projects that worked were very simple.

We got FRUSTRATED very soon after we opened this toy.

The software crashed a lot. The blocks were super dodgy; working sometimes, not working other times, and sometimes it worked better if we squeezed the blocks together hard.  There are serious connection issues with this product; both with the blocks themselves and with the software.

The wording used in the software is not at an appropriate level for young children.

The sequence of information given is quite strange and needs work. One of the first things that LittleBits describes in their booklet that comes with their kits is the purpose of the colours used; however, IQube takes a long time to get around to informing the user of this.

Project 20 has MAJOR issues!  We must have spent a good 10 minutes trying to debug this Project and make it work. The software doesn’t recognise the cubes.  We followed the instructions for the order of these cubes but still had problems. We couldn’t even just SKIP this part; why is there no SKIP or NEXT button?  Surprisingly the last project available, #21, was so easy compared to project 20. I am not impressed with how unreliable this toy’s connections are and I think there should be more complex projects included.

Overall, I would NOT recommend this product to anyone at the moment. I am hoping that this product is being improved.  Supposedly the owners are developing 100 projects in total and I expect there to be more complexity in these new projects.

When I first decided to purchase this product I had liked the fact that it could be linked to a handheld device, like an iPad or phone. Unfortunately an app has not been developed yet for this toy.  I can’t help but wonder what they have been doing in the last year?!  Including simple NEXT or SKIP buttons on every screen should exist, it shouldn’t be something that the user wishes existed!  It’s not like this was a free toy, I paid US $115 for it.  But I guess that’s the risk you take when you support new startups.  They should make the code OpenSource so that we could play around with it and try to make our own apps that connect to these blocks; this would also open up the market for this product to older students who are learning to computer program.

My daughter (9) has no interest in ever playing with this toy again. She found the experience of completing the projects & quiz questions to be either lacklustre boring or frustrating due to the many connectivity issues. However, I will definitely use this product at school as an example of a startup and it makes for a good example in how to test a product. Maybe in the future there will be an app and the software will work nicely; however, I don’t know if this will help the obvious connection issues that we experienced with some of the blocks.

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