Some of my favorite childhood memories include being read to, and learning to read myself to get lost in a book. If you’ll forgive me the oldmanyellsatcloud.gif moment: It’s a grievous loss that many children are so comprehensively surrounded by screens that it’s hard to experience this. I was delighted, then, to see Oranoff launch its StoryPhones product at CES this year. The headphones can, independently of any other devices you connect to them for audio playback — store a bunch of audio content within the headphones themselves. Perfect for getting lost in the magic of fairy tales and magic.
The company announced it even snagged a content collaboration with Disney for its launch, with a collection of stories for children, bringing to their ears characters kids are likely to know from the big and small screen. The headphones will ship with stories including some of the best-known characters and stories in the Disney line-up, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, The Little Mermaid, Frozen, The Lion King, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc. and more. The company claims it has a library of carefully curated content suitable for kiddos aged 3 and up.
In addition to pre-recorded content, the headphones support something the company calls “PlayShield,” where parents can record their own stories on a mobile app, and load them onto the headphones for playback later. The company suggests that it is a way to connect with grandparents and far-flung families, bringing them all closer through storytelling.
Finally, the product has a feature called ZenShield, which “contains relaxing audio profiles to help overstimulated kids calm down, relax and even sleep.” You can think of it as a pause button for the rowdy tykes, I suppose. The sounds include piano music, ocean waves, raindrops and more.
The headphones have a SafeAudio feature built in to keep the volume down to prevent hearing damage to sensitive little children’s ears, and as a result, it picked up a couple of CES 2022 innovation awards, in the “Headphones & Personal Audio” and “Health & Wellness” categories.
The headphones can store around 90 minutes of content on its pitiful 64MB of storage – in a world where a 4GB SD card can be procured for $4, I’m baffled why the company would only include so little user-accessible storage; perhaps they’ll re-think that choice in a future version of the headphones.
At first, the headphones are launching across Europe, in Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the U.K., and France, in five languages — Italian, Spanish, German, French and English. The recommended retail price in Europe is £84.99 (around US$115). for the US, The StoryPhones bundle which includes a headphone and either a Mickey or Minnie StoryShield costs $99.90. The StoryShields can be bought individually too and range from $7.99 to $14.99.