Bose, one of the premier audio companies in the world, has launched a new "build-it-yourself" category of products for kids.
The BOSEbuild Bluetooth Speaker Cube is the first product in the series. At $149, purchasers will receive a bluetooth speaker in pieces. The step-by-step build kit will come with an accompanying iOS app that breaks down the procedure and explores the inner workings of a bluetooth speaker.
"We believe in the importance of STEM education," said Joe Titlow, Head of Sales and Marketing for BOSEbuild. "But learning doesn't just happen at school – it happens in garages and backyards and at kitchen tables, and it starts at a young age. That's what's so exciting about BOSEbuild products. They'll give kids a new way to use, share, and celebrate their imagination and creativity. And we hope that starts a lifetime of discovery."
According to the company, the speakers are best for kids who are eight and up and should take an hour or two to build. However, it is designed to build without an adult; there is no difficult assembly or coding, according to Bose. The company says the parts are rugged and resilient and the directions clear and easy to follow. The cables and connectors are intentionally big and bright to enable easier handling, and the Speaker Cube is larger than other speakers so that kids can easily see all of the parts.
Other than the product itself, there is only one additional material needed: a compatible iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad running iOS 8 or newer. This will enable the child to see the free companion app, which serves as an interactive instructional manual and provides step-by-step instructions and videos for building the speaker. In addition, the app allows kids to explore subjects deeper that interest them.
As they build the speaker, users will learn about the basic components of the speaker: the power supply, control panel, magnet, and coil. The app describes how all of these work together to produce sound.
The app's first step takes users through exploring a basic paper speaker that demonstrates the technology's system — a magnet and coil. The app then explains how electrical currents make vibrations and sounds while allowing the user to manipulate aspects of the speaker through sliders.
Next, the app asks users to cut out a paper housing for the mini-speaker. After this step, the user follows the instructions to assemble the actual speaker, which entails plugging things in or snapping things together.
To add some creativity to the mix, Bose gives kids the ability to customize their cubes with various LED color light options and eight different silhouette covers for the outer faceplates. Inside the box, there's even a set of LEDs that can dance with the beat.
Once assembled, the Speaker Cube will pair to any smartphone or tablet so kids can stream their music to a custom speaker built by themselves.
Through this experience, Bose hopes to offer kids a hands-on learning experience. According to Bose, "When kids build something with their own hands and experience it with their own senses, it does more than just teach – it inspires."
"Dr. Bose was fascinated with electric trains when he was very young," said Bob Maresca, CEO and president of Bose. "He learned how they worked by taking them apart and putting them back together, and he had that same insatiable curiosity throughout his entire life. That spirit is still at the heart of Bose. And it's a great example of what we'd like BOSEbuild to offer – fun and relatable ways for kids to make something they really want and can use for years to come, while learning about the incredible science and technology behind it."
The Bluetooth Speaker kit is one of the first of a new wave of "edutainment" products, including Apple's upcoming app, Swift Playgrounds, which will teach kids how to code.
While unique, a review in Tech Crunch says the speaker has left much to be desired. They say the speaker does not offer enough customization, and the quality of the speaker is "passable."
Bose is currently working on more BOSEbuild kits. The BOSEbuild Bluetooth Speaker Cube is available now on their web site for $149.