All parents know that young children are always listening. That quizzical look on a new-born’s face? Listening. A constant barrage of questions during the terrible twos and threes? Driven by listening.
Pediatric research has shown that 90% of brain growth happens before a child reaches the age of five, with the spoken word a critical part of that child’s development. We may not remember how much we learned when we were children, but our parents were the people that taught us the words that developed our language skills.
So, how can a parent know how many words a child has heard? San Francisco-based VersaMe has the answer.
VersaMe’s Starling is a wearable device that has been designed to mirror a child’s early development from baby to infant to toddler to pre-school. Parents set a word goal for the day (kind of like step-counting) which tracks the number of words spoken to that child.
The Bluetooth-paired wearable allows parents to follow their child’s progress through the day, thanks to the companion smartphone app that not only provides data on word learning abilities but also determines what is and is not actual speech.
As you would expect from a company that is at the heart of a child’s early development, VersaMe needed to make sure that Starling had seamless functionality. First impressions mean everything in the modern app economy, even more so when you have a product that will come into contact with both parent and child.
Feedback Is The Key To Successful Product Management
According to VersaMe’s program and product manager Alexandra Yorke, the challenge was to ensure that all of Starling’s “moving parts”—hardware and software—worked in harmony from day one.
“These are parents using the app. We don’t want them spending their time trying to work around a bug,” said Yorke, “We want them engaging with their children, so it is really important to us that they have a smooth experience the first time they launch the app onwards.”
With a small internal QA team, Yorke knew that a third-party option could deliver focused feedback on both the device itself and the iOS and Android versions of VersaMe’s app. This would become even more important as the smartphone app evolved over time.
After considering a number of options, the company determined Applause’s Beta Management solution was the perfect fit.
Applause’s user testing solution removes all the barriers that stand in the way of conducting a successful beta program. On a business level this means there would be no additional forms for customers to sign and no additional software for customers to download.
The Applause Beta Management solution also provides concise and granular data, feedback, and directly integrates with BTS and CI processes already in place. Applause’s crowdtesting community delivers a unique advantage by placing the beta app in the hands of new parents. In addition, testers are paid on a “per unique bug basis.”
As a result, VersaMe receives direct (and useful) demographic feedback from testers on any device and in any location.
“We really like how testers are compensated based on the value of the bug and that only unique bugs are accepted,” Yorke said. “This promises us that testers will try their best to break the app under a variety of circumstances. There is only so much that our internal team can achieve. Having an additional 20-30 testers has been amazing.”
The intangible benefits to VersaMe go beyond the number of bugs found, said Yorke. Starling was designed to help parents embrace their role as teachers, a vital step on the way to a child realizing his or her full potential. As the external QA team, Applause takes a partnership approach to testing … an approach that has allowed VersaMe to release an exceptional product to their customers.
“Applause has gone above and beyond,” said Yorke. “We have a hardware device and I thought that getting the right people the right pieces would be a logistical nightmare, but Applause has done a great job of keeping track of all the testers and all the moving parts.”