Flycatcher is a young UK company that creates innovative tech toys for kids. It was founded in 2014 by Shay Chen, an Israeli developer who ran two successful technology businesses before focusing his attention on toys. As a father as well as an inventor, he saw how his children seamlessly moved between digital and physical worlds, learning how to navigate their complicated 21st-century lives through play. “Technology was like a magnet for them,” says Chen. “But I wanted to make sure that they also played offline and learned the social skills that are often missing with screens.” All Flycatcher toys utilize technology in new ways. But equally important, they incorporate physical play with the same kind of seamless energy that Chen admired in his children.
In 2017, Flycatcher introduced the smART sketcher® Projector. The smART sketcher® Projector put the fun of sketching, drawing, and writing into the hands of kids using photos from any mobile device. It was an instant hit, winning numerous awards in the United States and globally. Next up was the smART Pixelator™, which combined light-focused technology with hands-on art to encourage creativity and STEAM learning. This too, garnered multiple awards, including being named one of Time Magazine’s Best Toys of 2019. The newest Smarty products, geared for preschoolers, also embrace technology in innovative, engaging ways. Smarty JOJO™ and Smarty FLUTTER™ combine active physical play and learning using an interactive flying “friend.” In addition to teaching directions, opposites, shapes, and emotions, they also identify colors. The hand-held Smarty PAD™ is an LED tablet that incorporates motion sensors in fun, age-appropriate learning games.
“Our goal is to use emerging technologies to embrace active STEAM learning while nurturing creativity, motor skills, emotional intelligence, and basic story-telling,” says Chen. “All of our products–those existing as well as those in development–balance physical and digital activities and encourage interaction between kids and adults.”