Natalie Rebot tried reading bedtimes stories to her 3-year-old daughter, but they didn’t hold her interest. So one night mom pulled out her iPhone and used the flashlight mode to create shadow play on the bedroom walls.
The nightly ritual stirred young Chloe’s imagination. The gears in mom’s head started turning, too, and before long, Rebot had designed a smartphone attachment that uses the camera flash to project a story on walls and ceilings.
Such resourcefulness from parents is as timeless as the ritual of bedtime stories, but as a former project team leader for Google, this problem-solver used her tech background.
The result is Moonlite, a mini projector that takes View-Master-like picture cartridges that match stories on a companion app. The words appear on the phone screen, and the story’s illustrations come to life on a wall or ceiling. Sound effects accompany each tale to bring more senses into play. Turn the story reel to the next image and the story advances to the next page on-screen.
While Moonlite has sparked new interest for Chloe in bedtime stories, it has also caught fire on Kickstarter, where backers have pledged more than $190,000 toward its production. Not bad for a campaign that sought just $20,000.
For $35, backers can get a Moonlite starter pack, which includes the cute little glow-in-the-dark projector with two educational story reels. For an additional $10, backers can get a fairy tale pack with the projector and three more story reels (Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Ugly Duckling).
Rebot hopes to get Moonlite shipped by April. Six days remain in the Kickstarter campaign.
Moonlite will work with iPhone 6 and up, as well as Samsung Galaxy phones (starting with the 6s). There are currently seven story reels, but more stories, availability in different languages and support for other devices are in the pipeline.
Rebot said her daughter preferred creating her own stories while the two made shadow animals by the beam of her iPhone flash.
“The look in her eye as she was gazing at these shadows was incredible to witness,” Rebot said. “It was magic to her and I was the source of this magic. I knew there had to be a way to improve this and make it even more magical.
“I pretty much scoured the internet and couldn’t find anything that would do what I was looking for, so like any diligent engineer, I decided to make something myself.”
Rebot tells prospective backers that the prototype was a hit with Chloe, now 4, who has a renewed interest in reading as a result. Rebot holds a bachelor’s in software engineering, an MBA and spent seven years with Google.