Frequently Asked Questions
ABOUT ORDERING AND SHIPPING
Where do you ship?
Currently, we ship Starlings to the US and Canada. If you live in another country and want a Starling, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What comes in the Starling box?
When we ship your Starling, you’ll receive:
- 1 Starling
- 1 Clip Attachment
- 1 Base/Charging Station
- 1 Set of Charging Cables
ABOUT THE STARLING AND ITS APP
Couldn’t this be done via a smartphone app?
Why? First, regardless of race, income, or geography, the smartphone is the single greatest source of distraction facing every parent today. We needed a technology that can track engagement without interfering with it, so we built the Starling.
Second, kids get shuffled between caregivers in a typical day (mom, dad, daycare, nanny, grandparents, etc.). Anyway, we thought it made more sense to build a wearable device that follows each child rather than suggesting parents arm their toddlers with the latest smart phone.
Third, parenting is hard. Believe it or not, it is less effort to clip the Starling to your child’s shirt in the morning and forget about it, than it is to dig your phone out of your pocket or purse during meals and playtime to open an app (and this brings us back to the first point, which is that there is no way you simply open an app without checking your email…).
Does the VersaMe App work with all smartphones?
Currently, the VersaMe app works via bluetooth connection with all Android devices and iOS devices 5s and later running version 9.0+ iOS.
Does the Starling work in all languages?
Yes! The Starling counts words in every language.
Does the app or the Starling ever over-count or under-count words?
We’re good, but nobody is perfect. Our goal is to get you to talk more to your child, so a handful of miscounted words here and there likely will not amount to much of a difference in your child’s education—the way that missing out on 30 million words certainly does.
What else are you working on beyond word counting?
Lots of things, but we have to keep them secret for now. We’ve gone to the edge of speech processing and artificial intelligence and then jumped over it. The thought of “simply” counting words on a battery-powered wearable device seemed impossible when we first started, but here we are.
What else would you like the Starling to do for your family? We would love to hear from you at: email@example.com.
The last thing I need is another device cluttering my house. Won’t this just add stress to my life?
Actually, we’ve designed the Starling with an eye towards reducing stress. As parents, we understand that we generally have two problems: there is not enough time in a day and the fear that we’re not doing enough for our kids.
This is where the Starling saves the day. We believe (and research supports) that if you do nothing more than talk to and engage with your children, they will end up smarter and happier. We’ve designed the Starling so that it integrates seamlessly into everyday routines that are already in place, like meals, baths, and bedtime, so that parents don’t have to carve out extra time from their busy day.
What if I take my child to a noisy restaurant?
Kind of like husbands, the Starling tunes out background noise (we’re kidding about the husband part…kind of). As long as you are talking louder than the background noise, the Starling will count words as usual.
What if I have more than one baby/toddler? Do they each need to wear a device?
Yes, if you’d like to track the verbal engagement for each of your children then you’ll need a Starling for each one. By the way, we bet you talk way more to your toddler than your baby—and you need to be talking to both!
What is the Starling Start Number?
The first time you use the Starling, it goes through a complicated cycle of calibration by getting used to the sounds of your everyday lifestyle. The places you take your child, the voices they hear, the environments they hang out in. During the whole process, the Starling is receiving audio waves and instantly filtering that data to find your words and count them. After three days, the Starling is ready to make you your child’s first (and best) teacher by giving you your very own personal baseline word count. This is your Starling Start Number, and it’s based on the average number of words your family spoke during those three acclimation days.
Does your number seem big? Small? Well, don’t stress about it because it really doesn’t matter either way. The Starling is designed to help you have MORE quality conversations with your child than you ALREADY DO. In other words, this is where you start, but it’s not where you’ll stay. Your Starling Start Number is also your very first daily word goal. So right away you’ll be able to start working (or “wording”) on beating your family’s baseline word count. Feel like a challenge? You can change your daily word count any time you want. Inch it up every day, every week, every month. Your biggest competitor is you. Your biggest reward? A smart child.
ABOUT SAFETY AND COMFORT
Is the Starling water-resistant?
Yes. Don’t take it on your next deep-sea diving excursion, but it should survive an accidental dip into the bathtub or toilet. It will likely survive a trip through a washing machine, but we can’t yet predict the corrosive effects of different laundry detergents and the damage that may result.
What if my baby puts the Starling in her mouth?
Primarily, the Starling will get covered with slobber. Aside from that, not much. It’s certainly better than that time you turned your back and wondered where your other shoe went.
What about the radio technology used in the Starling?
The Starling uses a technology called Bluetooth Low Energy and emits roughly 1200 times less energy than the average cell phone. If you’ve ever given your child your phone to watch a video, you’ve exposed her to more radiation than she’ll ever be exposed to using the Starling.
Is it comfortable for my baby to wear?
We don’t recommend it for use as a pillow, but yes — the Starling should be a comfortable and virtually unnoticeable addition to your child’s daily outfit and routine.
How should I talk to my child?
Treat your child like any other person you would talk to. This can seem a bit silly and awkward at first, but we promise it’s for the best. Talk with your child, not at your child. But don’t shy away from baby-talk! It’s good for your baby to hear you imitate her coos.
How many words should I speak to my child in a day?
Each family is different, so our goal is to get every parent to spend a few more minutes talking each day than they otherwise would. Minutes add up to hours. Hours add up to words. And research has shown that words add up to a smarter and happier child.
Do words from adults talking to each other count as engagement?
It really depends on whether your child is engaged and paying attention to the conversation. If they’re part of the discussion, then yes. If their focus is elsewhere, then likely no.
Will my child regress if I stop using the Starling after a few months?
So your fitness tracking bracelet ended up in a drawer after six months? Well, unlike the few pounds you gained back, six months of talking more to your child increases brain function permanently and irreversibly. That’s right — smarter forever. Go ahead and celebrate with a milkshake.
Am I being recorded?
No. The Starling does not maintain any audio recordings. It simply counts the words it hears without maintaining any knowledge of what those words are. Your relationship with your child is private and we’ve designed the Starling so it can stay that way.
What data does the Starling collect?
To count words, the Starling listens but does not store any audio recordings. It communicates those statistics to the Starling app on your phone.