High Tech Interactive Storytelling App Strengthens Family Bonds

Grandparents love this new way to tell stories to their grandkids.

Grandparents love this new way to tell stories to their grandkids.

(Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock.com)

Remember those frustrating video chats with your family during the Covid pandemic? Most kids couldn’t sit still or engage in any meaningful dialogue before wandering away. Nor would they watch the awkward videos you made of yourself reading a favorite book. Now there’s an interactive storytelling app born out of those frustrations that is changing the nature of how stories are shared stories with loved ones.

Zoog, an Israeli startup, founded in 2021, is an innovative communication application designed to provide a unique and creative way for distant and cross-generational family members to stay connected, according to the company’s website. .Through Zoog’s mobile app, users can make books come alive and actively participate in the narrative by utilizing AR masks, filters, and various other visual enhancements.

“In order to get our kids to engage in conversations with their family members, they quite literally needed to be entertained," Yoav Oren, CEO and co-founder of Zoog told TODAY.

One user, Sumit Suman, used Zoog when he traveled for business. He transformed himself into an animated frog in order to hold his five-year-old daughter's attention on phone calls.He said that his daughter would not speak to him on the phone so he used ZOOG to transform himself into Flip the Frog —Suman in animated frog getup — and now they read stories every night.

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A post shared by Zoog: Magical Storytime (@zooghq)

How it works
According to the company’s website, the Zoog app asks you to choose one of the many stories or nursery rhymes available to read and then it offers prompts and automatically adds AR effects to enhance the tale. 

Once you’ve recorded yourself reading the story, you can send it as a message to your family member. This is a great feature if you’re juggling different time zones as you can record or view the story at your convenience.

AR stands for Augmented Reality. It is a technology that allows computer-generated sensory information, such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data, to be superimposed onto the real-world environment in real-time. This technology is commonly used in mobile apps and games, as well as in industries such as education, healthcare, and retail. 

Last year, Zoog announced a partnership with Snap, the camera company behind products and services such as Snapchat, Spectacles, and Bitmoji, according to CTECH by Calcalist

Though Snap is primarily a social media platform, Snap launched a Beta offer that allowed companies like Zoom to access its Camera Kit, a complete end-to-end AR creation solution that includes their platform and Lens Analytics management tool.

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A post shared by Zoog: Magical Storytime (@zooghq)

You don’t have to be tech-savvy to use Zoog
With impressive tech, Zoog is a delight to use and any grandparent can get the hang of it easily and quickly.

“One of the first things that we set out to accomplish was to enable even less tech-savvy grandparents to produce cool AR content,” Oren told CTECH. “We’ve reduced friction to allow them to create fun, engaging, and educational content within two clicks as they enter the app. 

“But not only are grandparents creating AR content on Zoog, which they are enjoying, their grandkids think this content is cool and are engaged with it,” Oren added. “By allowing our audience to experience and share even more advanced AR quality without complicating the process, it will enable them to create even better content, therefore sharing even more frequent interactions with their loved ones.”

Zoog is similar to other apps that are bridging the generational communication gap such as Amazon Glow, and Readeo’s BookChat. Another Israeli book tool that offers authors the chance to create digital flipbooks with animation is ourboox.com, though this is mainly for childrens’ authors. The world of reading stories and communication between families will never be the same again.

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