“Why did we create Rosie? To ignite a passion for programming!” Sélim Benayat, co-founder of start-up RosieReality, is excited to share the reasons that led him to create an educational augmented-reality iPhone app with his colleague Peter Spence and Florian Maushart. It all began in 2018 when the three young men, one interested in robotics, and the others in mechanical engineering and biophysics respectively, realised that the Swiss and Anglo-Saxon education systems do not offer computer science education at primary-school level. “Being able to read and write is obviously part of a child’s basic knowledge. But we believe that being able to be comfortable with computers and learning to develop programs have become just as important,” explains Sélim Benayat.
“The idea is to make kids move and think in 3D”
A robot, a passion
The desire to ignite a passion for engineering and programming and to pass on their knowledge to children led to Rosie, a small digital robot from another planet that moves around in the immediate environment of its young users. The application is meant to be both educational and fun. “Children put Rosie in places like their living room, classroom or playgrounds, by using the camera of their mobile devices. Once set-up, they will be faced with intricately crafted life-sized 3D-puzzles. Children have to actively move through space and use Rosie’s modular building blocks to solve these life-sized puzzles. The idea is to make kids move and think in 3D. Our puzzles merge the digital and the real and thereby introduce programming principles. It’s a new way to play and learn using the real world.”
“It’s always good to question yourself when you move fast and into a new market”
RosieReality called on the services of Innosuisse even before being created. “We applied because we needed external help to develop our product”, explains the co-founder. This support has proven useful for the company, which is currently in a Core Coaching programme (see box). “Innosuisse enables us to access the strategic knowledge of coaches, in our case Christoph Heidelberger and Paola Ghillani, who help us solve the challenges that arise. We approach difficulties from a different angle thanks to their external perspective. It’s always good to question yourself when you move fast and into a new market” says Sélim Benayat.
Confidence in the future
In just under one and a half years of existence, RosieReality has already hired 15 employees and is aiming to distribute its app worldwide in 2019. The app is already being tested in several markets including Canada, Singapore and Romania. “We are working with several companies in the Bay Area to ensure that our product is distributed to families and classrooms worldwide”, says the ambitious young co-founder.