Two enterprising mums have hit on a high-tech way to make museums more fun for kids.
Caroline Inwood and Nicky Thompson, who run Bright Things Technology, based at Huddersfield’s Media Centre, have devised a free app called iSpy to turn a trip to the museum into an exciting adventure for youngsters aged four to 11.
The first venue to launch is the National Coal Mining Museum near Grange Moor. The launch takes place on Saturday, October 22, which coincides with the half-term holiday.
From there, Caroline and Nicky plan to make iSpy available for many more UK museums, galleries and visitor attractions – and are in contact with Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield councils about extending it to their venues.
WATCH: How the iSpy app works
Nicky, who lives at Marsden, is a mother of three girls aged 13, 11 and 10 while Caroline, of Brighouse, has two boys aged five and three.
Nicky, who is also editor of parenting magazine Mumbles, and Caroline, who also makes and sells cakes, developed iSpy after recognising there was a gap in the market for an app which encourages families to visit museums and prolongs their visits by providing a fun and educational game to play at the venue.
Nicky said her family loved visiting museums but said: “The idea is that you go into a museum and find objects in a certain area and collect points. For example, the coal mining museum app will have challenges for areas such as the stables or Hope Pit.
“The app is targeted at the family market for children aged between four and 11. The app allows venues to create a unique gaming experience specific to their venue.”
Nicky said her family loved to visit museums and tried to get out and about every weekend. But she acknowledged that some museums were too “dry” for smaller children.
She said: “I have a firm belief that with a smart use of modern technology museums can become exciting places for families to visit – and as children always have phones and tablets when out and about, it seems obvious to provide a stimulating and fun app that will enhance the experience museums, galleries and like venues provide.”
Nicky and Caroline built the app with support from their husbands – Lewis MacDonald and Richard Inwood, who own mFuzed Ltd, a digital technology company also based at the Media Centre specialising in mobile technologies.
Nicky said iSpy was the first of many planned products to enhance museum visits for families – with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality products planned for 2017.