‘Smart’ story-telling pajamas invented by father of 6
Wilson Rothman NBC News
April 25, 2013 at 2:26 PM ET
Kids wearing Smart PJs
A group of kids ”” two of inventor Juan Murdoch’s children, plus a handful of their friends ”” wearing Smart PJs. Note the dot clusters: There are 47 unique patterns on each pair.
As a dad who loves to read to his kids at bedtime, I was a little skeptical about Smart PJs. They’re certainly clever: Each of the jammies’ 47 unique dot patterns triggers a story or an animal lesson when the kid scans it with a smartphone or tablet. But I am wary of products that may outsource crucial parental tasks to machines. So I spoke with the inventor.
Juan Murdoch, an Idaho Falls, Id., realtor who came up with the idea for Smart PJs during a briefing on QR codes, has six kids, ranging from 6 to 18. I don’t know how many kids you have, but I can barely read a book to two children at once ”” I can’t imagine keeping the attention of six. It just makes sense that he’d invent something that provides a little extra bedtime help.
Once Murdoch enlisted a developer, the pair first tried scanning QR codes ”” those square bricks of black and white that can direct your smartphone to a website ”” on the pajamas, but they don’t show up well on fabric. So the team “started from scratch,” creating a dot pattern system reminiscent of Braille, that could be scanned much more easily.
When the first samples arrived, his kids were thrilled, Murdoch told me. “And when I saw that they actually worked, I was as blown away as they were.” The kids were instant stars during show-and-tell, and “pajama day at school was a fun day,” he said.
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