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IDEO Brings Elmo and Cookie Monster to Your Smartphone

Image of Elmo Calls on iPhone 5As anyone raising children in today’s technology filled world will tell you, kids are learning to use the newest gadgets almost as quickly as their parents. And, adults aren’t the only ones enchanted by the proliferation of smartphones and tablets; iPads topped children's Christmas wish lists in 2012 and scientists are working to learn more about educational apps for children. With all of these new avenues opening for children’s apps, it’s no surprise that even well-loved classics like the Sesame Street muppets are popping up in the app-mosphere.

Parse-powered apps Elmo Calls and Cookie Calls are two innovative apps that take advantage of both characters that children love, Elmo and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, as well as technology they enjoy, namely their parents’ smartphones. We sat down with Dominique Yahyavi of IDEO, the firm that created the apps, to find out more about how Parse plays into these highly rated apps.


Tell us about IDEO and your work there.

IDEO is a global design and innovation firm. We work in the Toy Lab within IDEO, which is a small group of toy inventors that design physical and digital toy prototypes.

How did the Toy Lab find its way to using Parse?

We needed to find a backend service to help us prototype quickly, and after some research we found that Parse was the best option.

What can you tell us about the apps IDEO has built on Parse?

As a part of IDEO, a human-centered design and innovation firm, the Toy Lab believes that design needs to stem from real people, real needs, and real desires. With these insights we’ve built iPhone apps for kids that delight and support enriched family interactions. We’ve created great apps through our partnerships with Sesame Street and Fisher-Price - bringing great characters and classic toy play to life on the iPhone. Two of our popular Sesame Street apps, Elmo Calls and Cookie Calls, are built using Parse. And we’re planning on building more apps on Parse soon.

What would you say have been the key benefits to using Parse for your apps?

Parse has allowed us to focus on the user-experience and leave the backend to them. It’s been a great experience so far. Also, Parse is always pushing their platform forward, and we feel that it is a huge benefit to be working with a company that is innovating at such a fast rate.

Parse has provided our apps with a reliable and scalable backend, and has made the development process much smoother.

Do you have plans to use Parse in the future?

We’ve built Elmo Calls and Cookie Calls on Parse, and plan to build more Sesame Street apps on Parse soon.

Do you feel that using Parse has decreased your development time at all?

Parse has definitely decreased development time by at least half.

What Parse features do you find most useful or do your customers love most?

Sending targeted push notifications has been very useful. We use push notifications to notify users of important days such as Elmo’s birthday! We also use push notifications to let users know of new call packs and promotions.

Do you use any other Parse features, such as Parse Data or Social?

We use Data to store all of the video and audio calls for Elmo Calls and Cookie Calls on Parse, and all the data along with them.

One last question; what do you love most about Parse?

What we love most about Parse is the people. Everyone at Parse has been so quick to offer help and assistance with any need of ours. They really care about their customers and the apps on their platform, and we feel that we’re all part of one big team, it’s great.