readiness
Word Up

Your Kid Should Hear 30 Million Words By Age 4 And This Tracker Can Help Them Get There

Thirty million words. That’s how many your kid is supposed to hear by the time they’re 4 years old if you want them to get out in front of the other little readers in kindergarten and stay out in front through elementary school. Assuming you don’t plan on following them around from birth with notebook, making hatch marks every time someone says something to them, you’re going to need some technology to assist.

Starling is new piece of wearable tech for your kid that was developed by a team of Stanford grads, based on a bunch of Stanford research (Go Cardinal!), which found that 82 percent of brain development happens in the first 1,000 days of a kid’s life. Starling aims to help you track your kid’s language development by listening to (but never recording) what’s going in their one ear and out the other all day long. An algorithm notes if they’re hearing the same word over and over again in a high pitched voice, which is fun but not so productive, or coherent sentences with different words, which is less fun but way more effective for vocabulary building. That data is fed through an app, which tells you how many words your kid has heard and suggests activities for best practices if it finds you’re in a baby babble feedback loop. These include emphasizing important words, speaking slowly, using a happy tone of voice, and elongating vowels. Sounds like fuuuuuuuuuuuun!

The star-shaped device easily hooks, clips, or magnetically straps to your kid or any of their 100 attendant pieces of gear. If you’re the kind of guy who likes your data quantified, it’s a whole lot easier than the alternative: Big Brother-fying your home and sifting through 90,000 hours of footage.

Starling Pack ($169)