Since its release at the end of April this year, BoomKLAKers, the first app to teach toddlers to “feel the beat,” has reached #1 in 23 countries, including the US, France, Brazil, Mexico and Spain. At the end May, Apple chose BoomKLAKers as Best New App in 108 countries.
BoomKLAKers creator Rosa Mei was stunned by the huge response to the app. A professional American choreographer and martial artist based in Europe, Mei came up with the concept of BoomKLAKers when trying to entertain her baby twins. “My babies grew up watching dance and martial arts, listening to beatboxers and rappers practicing in our studios. They love movement and music. It engages them and makes them so happy. They bounce and do mock head banging to the beats. Before my little girl could say mama, she said “Boom KA!” and would start dancing.” Mei says she was inspired to create an app for kids that would give toddlers all over the world a similar kid of joy.
Apparently, the public was waiting for just this kind of app. At the end of May, the large number of downloads landed BoomKLAKers on the iTunes homepage next to heavy hitters like Toca Boca, Disney and DuoLingo. “Quite honestly, we were both stunned and flattered. I’m an indie app developer, a real newbie. I never even knew what an app was before November of last year. My colloborator Teddy who created the music and sound effects doesn’t even have an iPad, so I had to send him movies of what I created. We’re a bit of a vagabond crew.”
Rosa and Teddy have collaborated for 10 years through Cie 13, an experimental dance troupe based in Antwerpen, Belgium. The company includes poppers, lockers, bboys, ballet dancers, beatboxers, circus acrobats and rappers. “We’re an eclectic group,” says Mei. “Everyone brings his or her special talent to our performances.” The group has toured in 17 countries throughout the world.
A year and a half ago, Mei gave birth to twins and the touring was put on hold. “We traveled so much and I got used to living out of a suitcase, but when I had my babies, I wanted to spend more time at home. That’s when I started to think more about creating pieces for kids.”
This “piece” took the form of BoomKLAKers, a revolutionary type of kids app which shows how to feel the beat by associating musical beats with movement. Inspired by street dance styles of popping and locking, BoomKLAKers features monsters that groove to the beat. Simply by tapping on screen, kids can watch a group of monsters jump, dance, and do back flips. They can also tap the monsters to make them follow the sequence: Boom! KLAK! Boom! Boom! KLAK! In the app, each tap represents a beat. Kids learn to associate dance movements to these beats by watching how the monsters respond to their taps. After kids repeat the dance sequence manually several times, the app will show a full musical animation.
BoomKLAKers includes the most unique sounds; it has 13 original tracks by French beatboxer/musician Teddy Guilbaud. Each track is associated with a unique monster, environment, and dance move.
Lauded for its fresh approach to music for preschoolers, Fun Educational Apps says, “Let’s face it; parents can get pretty tired of the sing-songy versions of our children’s favorite music. This app gives us a much needed break from the ABC song or Twinkle Twinkle. With the focus on percussive beats derived from modern pop and lock style dancing, this app has a whole different feel. The easy tapping interface is perfect for my 15 month old, but engaging enough that my four year old also had fun with it. I like that the beat is broken down into a sequence of steps and then put together as a whole at the end of each scene. The monsters and backgrounds are unique and bright, again perfect for our young children.”
The creation of BoomKLAKers, however, did not happen overnight. “I began with a concept, but was unsure of what form this would take. There are about 15 different versions of failed prototypes for this app. The final version was actually both simpler and more dynamic than what I originally had in mind.”
“In BoomKLAKers, toddlers get to see action/reaction. They react in the same way they do when they press light switches or elevators buttons. They marvel that their small action has caused such a big change. The scene shifts, monsters dance and do wall flips. Once there was a bboy in my company who used wall flips as his “go-to” move at the end of the show. People would go crazy cheering every time. So of course one of the monsters does wall flips too.”
The Concept Behind BoomKLAKers:
Mei first began thinking about the concept for BoomKLAKers after reading several articles about babies and rhythm. Research shows that babies move in time to music even before they learn to speak. When children are aged 12-24 months, they are able to stand, walk and begin to have a good body balance to move.
“At that age children will naturally align between the sounds and rhythms they hear. This is because children had already paid attention to the rhythm of speech and voice of heartbeat since they were still inside the womb,” says Professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, a psychologist at Temple University, Philadelphia.
Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario have found that musical rhythm perception – the ability to hear the beat in music and move in time with it – is developed through experience during the first year of life.
In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, psychologist Marcel Zentner and Tuomas Eerola found that babies will spontaneously boogie when they hear music and other rhythmic sounds. The findings suggest babies are not great dancers, but they smile more when they do hit the beat.
The creation of BoomKLAKers took five months of non-stop work. “It basically came down to 5 months of 15 hour days,” says Mei, who did the concept, animation design and marketing for the app. “I know it’s a different kind of app for toddlers. It’s not about playing house or doctor or serving tea. It’s about dance and music, and I really hope kids enjoy it.”
* Kids get to see Action/Reaction in real time
* Their taps create the sequences for the dancing monsters
* The animated monsters move to the beat of the music
* Created by a choreographer/dancer Rosa Mei
* Featuring the coolest soundtracks by sound artist Teddy Guilbaud
* Inspired by poppers, lockers, martial artists and cirque acrobats
* The animated monsters move to the beat of the music
* Bouncing to the beat makes kids happy
* No in-app purchases or third party advertising
* iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
* Requires iOS 5.1 or later
* Optimized for iPhone 5
* 46.9 MB
Pricing and Availability:
BoomKLAKers 1.2 is $1.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Education category.
Based in Antwerpen, Belgium, Funky Bots was founded in 2014 by Rosa Mei. The Funky Bots team is made up of professional performing artists who are also parents who want kids everywhere to know and love movement and music. Feel the beat and dance forever. Rosa Mei is a choreographer, dancer and martial artist. Artistic Director of Cie 13 (Belgium), she holds an MFA in dance and speaks seven languages. In New York, she created designs for the NBA, NY Knicks, MSG and MTV. In Europe, she has made over 30 pieces for stage and performed in 22 countries throughout the world. She is a proud mother of twins. Originally from Nantes, France, Teddy Guilbaud is a beatboxer extraordinaire, percussionist and jazz musician. He is also a mad slam and rap artist. In addition to his collaborations with Cie 13, he also creates music for Cirque Equinoctis (an equestrian circus). The programming team behind BoomKLAKers consists of Maya Milusheva and Mihail Minkov, founders of Plushie Games in Sofia, Bulgaria. They are superstars in the underground hacking community. (C) 2014 Funky Bots LLC / All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPod, the iPod logo, are registered trademarks of Apple Computer in the U.S. and/or other countries.