What's the Latest Development?
As Bay Area startups crank out ever more gadgets and apps for young consumers, demand has increased for product testers that represent the target audience. Consequently, more parents like Christy Mast find themselves saying, "Instead of going to the playground or gymnastics class, we go to the LeapFrog lab." Mast's 4½-year-old daughter Meredith is one of a group of kids who are helping to test the company's LeapBand digital bracelet, due to hit the market in August. Another tester, 5-year-old Owen Radtke, is so good at spotting problems that one business invites him in on a weekly basis.
What's the Big Idea?
Finding kids can be a challenge, with some companies turning to schools and parents' groups and offering free products in exchange for their help. However, for those that have the cash, 11-year-old Eliot Cowan's AppLab can supply groups of young testers. For one of their clients, Disney, the testers suggested adding a popular Disney Channel character to a mobile game that they felt lacked an edge. Their reason, says Cowan, was "because he's an evil genius and every game should have an evil genius."
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