My Daughter’s iPad: When Your Kids Show You How Something Should Work


My toddler is the beneficiary of growing up in an upper middle class household with associated gadget trickle-down. For example, she inherited an old iPad back in 2012 during her first year of life (although she now prefers my wife’s mini).

Fairly quickly she was able to master turning it on and unlocking the screen (not to mention also firing up Pandora). Fanboys insist that the fact children can use Apple products so easily is proof of a magical, intuitive UI. Sure, that and the kid has likely watched their parents use the same interface hundreds of times before (seriously, they’re really good mimics).

Anyway, we’d sit together, iPad in her lap or on the floor, as she tried to “Slide to Unlock” using her tiny finger. Fairly often it worked as expected but occasionally she failed to drag the entire way and the iPad remained locked. This frustrated her, leading to a series of reswipes that were equally sloppy. The iPad remained locked. My expectation was that she’d now thrust the device in my direction looking for me to open it for her, but instead something else happened. She grabbed my finger.

She grabbed my index finger and pulled it to the screen, using my digit like a stylus, running it across the screen. Of course! After seeing me open the tablet multiple times with a motion similar to what failed her, my daughter’s assumption was that the magic was tied to the finger, not to the gesture. The iPhone 5s with Touch ID hadn’t yet been released but it was heading in the same direction that my toddler intuited. The unspoiled eyes of a one year old just couldn’t imagine it working any other way.

The fact that the generations behind me — those who grew up with digital technology from Day One- would have very different ideas about what the world needs was one of the factors which motivated me to start our VC fund Homebrew. After a dozen years helping to build products, the chance to back founders and see the world through their eyes was too compelling. It wasn’t that I was exhausted of ideas but rather I wanted to bet on the field. And resist the urge to explain how things DO work but instead listen and watch as to how they SHOULD work. But I’m waiting until my daughter is at least in kindergarten to offer a term sheet.

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