blog post

The birth of an idea...

Close up of a young child playing with a wooden Voxblock prototype. They are sitting on a tree stump, and surrounded by greenery.

Where did the idea for Voxblock come from?

It all started back in the simple days of Summer 2018. We’d already realised the benefits of audio for children; our then three-year-old daughter loved listening to old cassette tapes, and it was clear that they were helping with her literacy and language skills, not to mention providing easy entertainment that didn’t involve a screen.

But eventually, after playing them through many, many, times, she got bored of the stories that we had. We needed different content to play for her, but with cassettes not widely manufactured anymore, it proved near impossible to get hold of any new tapes.

We experimented with a tablet and digital streaming, but that came with a myriad of problems. For a child who couldn’t read yet, choosing from a written list of titles with only tiny icons just didn’t work. Plus, the necessity for wifi restricted where we could play the content - long car journeys suddenly became a lot less easy. And perhaps the biggest issue of all; the screen was a constant distraction.

A boy listening to blue headphones watches an iPad, viewed from behind.

With the tablet (metaphorically) out the window, we started shopping around to see what else was out there. We tried various audio players, but even with the devices we liked best, we always found a few problems: fiddly wifi set up, complicated apps, or off-putting privacy concerns. Not to mention the high price of both players and content. And in addition, their toy-like appearance meant children would quickly outgrow them, and the players were not built to be repaired, meaning they came with a high cost both for the planet, and our wallet.

At this point we realised that if we wanted the perfect audio player for our children, we would have to make it ourselves.

Voxblock prototype with blue headphones.

After a few weeks of tinkering in the garage, the first Voxblock prototype was born. Although it looked very different from where we’ve ended up today, the initial premise of a tactile block that plugs into a player was very much there.

By the following year, we had our first functioning prototype, and it was starting to resemble the Voxblock player that exists today. We emulated cassette formats for our books, as we liked the familiarity of the shape, as well as the tangibility that was easy for small hands to use. Plus, a tactile block proved far more accessible and appealing than a tiny icon on a screen. The player itself is similar in size to a paperback book, although at this stage it was made of wood.

We shared this prototype with family and friends, whose enthusiasm confirmed there was a need for a simple, screen free, wifi free audiobook player. More tinkering and development followed, and not to mention a few minor setbacks like a global pandemic and international supply chain shortages, but eventually, we had our player.

Our screen free player is completely connectivity free, devoid of the pesky apps and painful set-up that so infuriated us with other players. Each story is housed on a physical block, complete with beautiful original artwork, that encourages sharing, swapping, and displaying.

The Voxblock audiobook player and several book blocks.

We are delighted to finally be sharing Voxblock with you. The player and blocks will be available to purchase in Spring 2022, but you can become a subscriber now to get access to exclusive content, and the chance to get your hands on a player before anyone else.

To learn more about Voxblock and get your hands on a player before anyone else, sign up to our mailing list here.

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Coming soon... - Voxblock
Blue question mark on a pink background.