VibeWrite (otherwise known as Lernstift) is a pen that vibrates when you make a spelling mistake. The pen was created by developers in Munich and has been through several stages of refinement.
From Kickstarter to Seedmatch
The company has learned from previous failures and recently launched a new campaign on Seedmatch. The fresh, clean design and crisp message are proving an improvement as the company has already raised €451,000 on the site.
VibeWrite has a small computer which has the same capabilities of a smart phone. The pen can detect movements by the owner to tell which words are being mispelled.
Developers have plans to release various other models such as VibeWrite Office, VibeWrite Medical and VibeWrite Gastro. The pen has been created with an open API so other users can develop apps.
VibeWrite’s Jessica White spoke to WebMagazin about the company’s plans for the future.
Tell us a little bit about VibeWrite how does it work?
VibeWrite introduces Lernstift (Learning Pen), a digital pen that gently vibrates when you make a mistake. It uses unique non-optical, motion sensors so that unlike our competitors Wacom and Anoto, it doesn`t need any special paper or cumbersome devices. The technology recognizes words, gestures and symbols even if you write or draw in the air. This opens new possibilities for white board applications. Furthermore, it is actually 3 pens in 1. You can turn it into a ballpoint, fountain pen and a pencil. It has a built-in Wi-Fi and blue-tooth to combine classic pen use with digital use cases – mobile and desktop apps.
Supporting handwriting in a digital world
Not only does the pen point out spelling errors, it supports handwriting as well, that in turn supports cognition and memory. This is quickly becoming a lost skill in an over-saturated environment of touch screen and typing. Furthermore, this is a great tool for children learning to write, people with dyslexia and those learning a second language.
It offers an alternative to touch screen and typing, whilst at the same time, offering you the opportunity to link-up to smart phones and other touch screen devices. So in fact handwriting, does not become a lost skill at all. This makes the pen really exciting for learning as it can link up with other Lernstift pens and have games centered around learning and writing with the apps that are being developed in combination with the hardware. As Mike Butcher said in Techcrunch, „it could also be capable of spawning its own App ecosystem“.
What would you say makes VibeWrite a special startup? Do you stand out in the educational tech scene?
It is part of the maker community that is growing in Germany at the moment that has spawned out of the engineering environment that Germany is famously known for. We are actually making our own product in the EU (not in China) from scratch. This means that the hardware and software are created especially for VibeWrite. Many EdTech start ups are focusing solely on apps or services, but we are actually devising a product that can be held in the hand, as well as apps and services for education and parents. So, it is the best of both worlds.
In house development
Everything is being developed in house with our exponentially growing diverse team. We represent over 10 countries in general, so that the each team member brings with them not only expertise within their area, be it programming, quality assurance, sales, marketing or education, but also diverse cultural perspectives increase productivity. With so many different and diverse minds coming together many more solutions arise, as every individual brings in their way of thinking, operating and solving problems and decision making.
What stage of development are you in at the moment? How are you being funded?
We are in the seed funding stage. We raised over €500,000 through D.I.Y funding in the form of convertible shares. We started crowd investing through Seedmatch, where we have raised €417,000 (Ed: 451,00 at the time of print). This is still open and we gladly invite people to join us in the journey of developing the product. It is a product for the people, with the people. We are selling our first Shakespeare edition through our webshop.
What’s the financial concept behind VibeWrite and how do you plan on making money?
The business model relatively simple. We produce at a low cost and sell globally at a higher price through a variety of channels.
How did you come up with the idea?
The idea came when Falk Wolsky and is wife Mandy were sat with their son helping him with his writing homework and he kept making silly mistakes. His wife said that she wished there was a pen that gently told him when he was making a mistake. This give Falk the idea to develop a pen that would gently vibrate when you make a mistake using the same kind of motion sensors that are used in helicopters. In this way the pen would be able to work without any cumbersome devices or paper that are currently on the market and are too bulky and expensive to be able to scale up to being a product used in daily life on a mass scale. With these unique sensors, together with innovative handwriting recognition software and efficient state of the art hardware, VibeWrite has the opportunity a market leader product.
And what were the founders doing before then?
Falk Wolsky (CEO) is a software developer, entrepreneur and father of three. He has advised many clients in various areas around the topic of digital contents. For example, IBM, Mont Blanc, TUI, Linde Gas, Media Saturn, Douglas, and Microsoft. He not only has a wide range of knowledge and skills in the areas of digital content, e-commerce, mobile apps and social media, but also has a keen sense of everything corporate.
Daniel Kaesmacher (our CMO) trained as an advertising specialist, freelance copywriter and concept designer and father of two. He has learned his craft in the first division of the German advertising industry (including at Jung von Matt, Scholz & Friends), while national and international clients from various industries and of all sizes supervised (eg Audi, Siemens, Olympus, Beiersdorf). Since 2009 he has worked for agencies and companies as a freelance copywriter, and later as a co-owner and creative director of a small advertising agency in Hamburg.
Alexander Hanke (CSQO) gained his first business experience as co-founder of web start-ups. In addition, he worked as a junior consultant for professional services in the field of e-commerce – in product development and quality assurance of a B2B industry portal. He then worked as a test manager for quality assurance for various products and services at O2 Germany. Since 2006 he works as a freelance consultant for quality assurance, test management and project management for various technology companies.