Flycatcher Inc. is an innovative technology company that focuses on creating tech-savvy toys that help children (and even adults) get in touch with their inner artist. Flycatcher’s first product “Painting Lulu,” includes cutting-edge technology that blends virtual and physical play. Intended for children ages three and older, Painting Lulu utilizes an impressive paper to digital coloring concept and has already won multiple awards and accolades from toy industry professionals.

Moreover, Flycatcher is also the creator of the “smART Sketcher Projector” which helps any budding artist learn how to sketch in three easy steps.

First, take a photo of something. Then, filter and transfer that image to the smART sketcher Projector. Finally, start sketching by tracing over the image. This system works for both simple and complex drawings, so it’s suitable for a range of ages. There are also pre-loaded images on the Creativity Packs content cards that are included with every projector. Images such as monkeys, turtles, rocket ships and more are featured. The smART sketcher Projector is expected to be one of the hottest toys this 2017 holiday season!

Despite only having been established in 2013, Flycatcher Inc. is making a lot of progress within the competitive toy industry. Recently the company’s CEO, Shay Chen, granted an exclusive interview discussing the company, its mission, and the hopes for its future.

Art, drawing, and design

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in drawing and what aspects of artwork did you find hard to master?

Shay Chen (SC): Drawing was never my forte as a child, so I avoided it as much as possible. Drawing even a cat was difficult enough for me. If I could have had a product back when I was a child, help me learn to draw, who knows, maybe I could have become the next Picasso!

I always wanted my children to embrace the arts, and try to step away from all the technology of the 21st century. So, my interest in art and drawing really stemmed from my children. I believe that an artist must master the basics before creating a masterpiece. A product that assists with the development of basic art skills is a necessary stepping stone into creating a true artist.

MM: What inspired the idea of smART sketcher Projector?

SC: As both a father and an inventor, I saw how my children seamlessly moved between digital and physical worlds, learning how to navigate the complicated 21st-century era through play. I wanted to create a product that combined online and offline synergy but also engaged kids in new and playful ways.

MM: How long did it take you to design this product and what were the most challenging parts?

SC: It took about three months to create the look of the smART Sketcher Projector, and five different concepts until we had the final design. From there, to get to a mechanically working device, it took another three to four months. The Flycatcher team had to work through some tough challenges with the projector and app features, but we are very excited to show the final product.

The hardest part was designing the connection between the base and the removable head unit. It had to be easy enough for kids to assemble and disassemble on their own, but also had to be sturdy, reliable and fully functioning mechanically.

Projectors, creativity, and updates

MM: What was it like getting this product on the market and how had it changed since its prototype days?

SC: We first introduced our smart projector to the world on Kickstarter, back in January 2017. The product name was Follow Grams. Through the course of a year, a lot has changed including the name, design, and features, the projector being the big one. It’s been both a challenging and rewarding year, with tweaks in-app features, altering product designs, launching a product rebrand, sending out our first batch of Kickstarter samples and more.

Hearing feedback from consumers has been the most rewarding, as we know they love the product but also offer us insights on how we can improve. The Flycatcher team has been working non-stop to ensure the smART sketcher Projector functions perfectly and inspires artists around the world.

MM: What sorts of ways have you seen people use the smART sketcher Projector?

SC: Both children and adults alike are always amazed by the photo-to-projector feature of the product. Users love taking selfies, or photos of their pets, and watch them magically transfer to the projector where they can begin to sketch! For the younger artists, they learn fundamental motor skills like how to write the alphabet and beginning spelling and reading based on standard curriculum, all while having fun.

Our Creativity Packs, offer step-by-step drawing instructions and nurture creativity and storytelling.

MM: How do you envision this product updating in the future?

SC: We want smART sketcher to be more than just a smart projector. We want it to be a brand that represents online and offline learning and fun in lots of innovative ways. For the Projector, an extensive line of Creativity Packs and Learn-A-Language Alphabet Packs are in development stages, which will allow kids to explore different themes like Farm Animals, Space, and Jungle, as well as learn different languages, age-appropriate spelling and reading skills, and even cursive writing. We also have Creativity Sets with art supplies and photo frames in the works.

The future looks very colorful for smART sketcher!

MM: What other cool things have you invented?

SC: Flycatcher’s first product was Painting Lulu, a digital coloring set that combined traditional paper coloring pages and mobile devices in a new way. Painting Lulu was introduced back in 2014 and has expanded into various licenses and new app features.

MM: What are you working on right now, and would you like to mention anything further?

SC: With the smART sketcher Projector just hitting store shelves at Barnes and Noble across the USA and QVC, we want to ensure that children are given a chance to use the product to inspire and develop their inner artistic capabilities. The smART sketcher Projector is also a proud nominee of the TOTY Rookie of the Year Award. We cannot wait to see what beautiful masterpieces are drawn with the smART sketcher Projector and how many budding artists are born!