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Family-Friendly Video Chat App Wins Top Innovation Prize

Kinoo bests 4 competitors, wins $10K in AARP nationwide competition

a photo of a person using the kinoo app

Kinoo Inc.

Using Kinoo, you can read to your grandkids — and get their reactions — even if you live thousands of miles away.​

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Jim Marggraff has been driven to invent things that connect people ever since he was 5 years old and saw his great-grandmother crying through her window when his family left her Connecticut home after a visit.

“It was the saddest thing I ever experienced,” Marggraff says. “This memory is etched permanently for me.”

Marggraff would go on to create the popular LeapPad tablet educational system that has helped more than 100 million kids learn to read. It’s one of seven companies he has founded or cofounded.

And now Marggraff’s latest invention, a family-friendly artificial intelligence and augmented reality-infused app and video chat solution for the iPhone and iPad known as Kinoo, has taken the $10,000 top prize as winner of the fourth annual AARP Innovation Labs’ Grand Pitch Finale. The labs’ mission is to engage early stage startups and help them identify fresh opportunities and tap into the enormous economy of people age 50 and older.

Marggraff’s Silicon Valley company, also named Kinoo, beat out four other startups Sept. 30 in a Shark Tank-like competition in which members of an online audience viewed the event and chose the winner through an app on their phones.

 Past Grand Finale winners

• 2018: Embodied Labs. Its virtual reality platform enables caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients to experience how the disease affects more than memory. 

• 2019: Sunu. Its smart wristband uses a series of vibrations to help wearers who are blind or with low vision navigate their surroundings.

• 2020: Zibrio. Its stability scale helps users track their balance and seek help for problems to prevent falls. Wheel Pad’s prefabricated accessible living spaces won an audience vote.

Each runner-up company received $2,500, and all five companies in the finale won earlier virtual pitch competitions, including an event AARP hosted in March in collaboration with the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the CES electronics trade show.

“These AgeTech founders are committed to the important work of tackling the problems we face as we age," says Jacqueline M. Baker, vice president of startup programming at AARP Innovation Labs. "We hope these innovations will inspire others to keep building for our future.”

For its part, Kinoo was the winner of the Better Aging Through Technology pitch competition held over the summer, sponsored by AARP Innovation Labs and Innovation Collective.

App to arrive in the fall

Kinoo’s first app, which the company says is scheduled to arrive in the fall, is about helping grandparents and grandkids bond virtually through discovery and while playing games and telling stories. Animated characters named Kodii and Kidoo, developed by early childhood social and emotional learning experts, guide those young and older.

Initially, the app will be free to try and available through the Apple Store. After that, the company will have an unlimited-use membership starting at $10 a month. Kinoo says it plans to add a version for Android next year.

The company will also be selling an optional $79 handheld motion-sensing wandlike controller that it says will let kids integrate physical play activities, such as watering plants, fishing and connecting the dots.

“We built Kinoo based on a vision of what might be possible if distance no longer prevented grandparents from frequently and actively engaging in the lives of their grandkids. We see a world where we connect in new ways, listen and play together, understand our mutual needs and help one another grow together,” Marggraff says. “We’re so honored that AARP has recognized the power of what is possible through Kinoo.

“I am now 63, younger than my great-grandmother at that time. But her legacy still lives on for me and has impacted my work at Kinoo for us all, empowering us to choose how we live as we age."

a man interacting with the care coach app on his tablet

A Care.Coach user can talk with an avatar that stands in for the company's team of trained health advocates.​


The Millbrae, California, company uses avatars to tackle social isolation and reduce loneliness and depression with video visits to older adults. Avatars deliver personalized coaching advice in the manner of a health care–trained family member, CEO Victor Wang says. For example: “Before playing a client’s favorite Frank Sinatra song to relax them for bedtime, we may ask them how they did on their diabetes-friendly diet for the day,” Wang says.

a visual of flowlys biofeedback app

Tamade Inc

Wave World in the Flowly app displays your biofeedback graph in real time.​


Flowly is a mobile app that uses biofeedback and virtual reality to help people manage chronic pain. A Flowly kit, available with a $15 monthly subscription, includes a VR headset and heart rate sensor. CEO Celine Tien says the Pasadena, California–based company's patented VR experiences can actually train your nervous system to relax.

a screenshot of naborforces website


Naborforce, based in Richmond, Virginia, vets and insures community members to help older people around the house and is expanding to other areas.​


As people age, they often lean on family members to help with chores, run errands or drive them places. But what if nobody is around to assist? This Richmond, Virginia, company has a solution built around a network of vetted community members, or “Nabors,” largely made up of empty nesters, schoolteachers and retirees. They can help on demand.

screenshots of the app the beans in the apple store

Apple / The Beans

The Beans is a financial app for iPhones that can help you create and meet your saving and spending goals.

The Beans

Founded by a former math teacher, this financial wellness startup builds automated financial plans with the goal of reducing all the stress around money. After downloading an iOS app, a client is asked questions about their lifestyle and goals. The answers are used to generate a visual, simple-to-follow financial plan and strengthen the person’s money skills. The Atlanta-based company says it works with nearly 10,000 banks.

Edward C. Baig is a contributing writer who covers technology and other consumer topics. He previously worked for USA Today, BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report and Fortune and is the author of Macs for Dummies and the coauthor of iPhone for Dummies and iPad for Dummies.

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