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Sparkup Reader lets you record audio to your child's favorite books


July 14, 2013

The Sparkup Magical Book Reader is a device which allows children to hear recordings of their parents reading their favorite books to them

The Sparkup Magical Book Reader is a device which allows children to hear recordings of their parents reading their favorite books to them

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Picture books are a great way to encourage your kids to embrace and enjoy reading. But as an adult, there may be times when it's simply impossible to only so many times you can read Aliens Love Underpants and remain sane. The Sparkup Magical Book Reader is a device which clips onto books and lets you record the audio for each page, so that your children can hear you reading it to them as they flick through the pages on their own.

Using proprietary image recognition technology, the Sparkup Reader is based around a camera which looks down at whatever book it's attached to. This enables the device to store highly compressed image data of book covers and pages, so that they can be recognized later, and corresponding voice clips played via a speaker.

Users simply attach the device to a book, and read it once into the microphone. This means younger readers can hear the recording at a later time by reattaching the reader and flipping through the pages of the book. This could come in handy if family members live hundreds of miles away, parents are working late and missing bedtime, or, very occasionally, when they just want a break from reading the same book ten times in a row .

Because each page is recognized independently, it doesn't matter whether little-ones "read" the pages of the book in the right order, the correct audio will always be played. The device has enough memory to store 250 minutes of audio, which is said to be good for about 50 children's books.

Sparkup Magical Book Reader will be launched later this month, with a retail price of around US$50. Later this year there will also be the option to download audio files of books being read by professionals.

Here's a short video showing the Sparkup Reader in action.

Source: Sparkup Reader

About the Author
Simon Crisp Simon is a journalist and photographer who has spent the last ten years working for national UK newspapers - but has never hacked a mobile phone - and specializes in writing about weird products and photography technology. When not writing for Gizmag, Simon is often found playing with LEGO and drinking far too much coffee. All articles by Simon Crisp

This is a really cool idea. Hope it catches on.

Racqia Dvorak

Parents may tire of reading the same book ten times or more- but reading to young children isn't meant to be for the parent's benefit, but for that of the child. Reading to kids is not just about 'passing the time' or passing on concepts and morals, it is as much or more about the bonding experience- quality time with a parent which is both socially enriching and reassuring (hence frequent repetition of favourite books- much like adults love to listen to the same album many times over).

There is a benefit to such technology- parents who have no choice but to be separated from their children, eg during hospital stays, or when in prison. The latter is particularly important- in Britain there is currently a programme to allow fathers to read stories to children on cassette tapes- this helps maintain essential bonds between fathers and their offspring that can easily fragment when in prison. My concern, however, is that for many parents this may become yet another 'electronic babysitter' for young people who may increasingly fail to relate to others except via the medium of electronic communication devices.


@RacqiaDvorak, very interesting insight about fathers in prisons. Same goes for military personnel, those who frequently travel on business, or just work long hours and find their children asleep when they return home.

You are certainly right about "electronic babysitters", but I do not think this gadget adds anything to this problem. Modern homes are saturated with "babysitters" already - starting from TVs, through tablets, smartphones. If anything, this gadget brings attention back to the physical world, to real books, pictures, stories. Children will learn to love books, thus love reading, thus become excellent readers for their whole life.

(I am a developer of this gadget and a father to a 2-year old.)

Denis Simakov

I live in Australia with grand children living in London. On each visit to UK I read bedtime stories to them. I miss my little grandchildren and dearly want to maintain the bond that I see fading between each yearly visit. I hope this device will give them pleasure and help maintain our bond

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