March 14, 2023

What is SmartDreams?

SmartDreams is a first-of-its-kind intelligent storytelling platform that leverages powerful generative AI to unlock the endless wonder of a child’s imagination at bedtime. The free-to-use app securely develops captivating narratives and custom-made illustrations in a matter of seconds that allow children to curate and find their own creative voice and witness their ideas spring to life instantaneously. With hundreds of customization options and characters to choose from, there are infinite unique stories to be created through SmartDreams, ensuring that the sacred ritual of storytime will never be the same. As children continue to grow and dream up new tales, SmartDreams helps them become their own storyteller and allows them to securely save and share their literary adventures with family, friends, and beyond. With SmartDreams, parents and guardians can also sleep soundly with the knowledge that their child’s information, ideas, and creations remain 100% protected via the platform’s private, secure interface that requires parent permission to register and operate. SmartDreams harnesses the power of AI to introduce children to the creative magic and limitless capacity of STEM fields and functions, showcasing how science can actually unlock each child’s inner creativity.

How does the app work? What elements of the experience are children able to customize?

SmartDreams is an app that can be downloaded for free via the Apple App Store. Once downloaded, parents can securely create a master account and customize individual profiles for each of their kids to play within. From there, the app works as a “choose your own adventure” storytelling platform, where children can choose which narrative elements to generate a story around, including: heroes, sidekicks, animals, foods, locations, and more. Once a child makes his/her/their selections, the app instantly goes to work, generating a new bedtime story with original narratives and vivid illustrations. With hundreds of customization options and storytelling elements to choose from, SmartDreams can generate infinite unique and magical stories for parents and children to imagine together and read aloud at bedtime.

How did you come up with the idea behind SmartDreams? (in first person)

The idea for SmartDreams was born out of those precious moments with our children before bedtime.

One night, our daughter asked me (Nick Desai) to tell her a story about a bear, a forest, and a pizza. I remember struggling to bring those elements to life in a story that could both entertain and include her in the process. But in the midst of that struggle, inspiration struck. I knew that I wasn’t alone and that other parents, who also cherish storytime with their children at bedtime, would love to let their children co-pilot the nighttime storytelling ritual. That’s when we (me and my husband/co-founder, Nick Desai) went to work to make SmartDreams a reality for our household — and for so many homes beyond us.

As parents of three, we have both seen how magical, nuanced, and endless the imagination of a child actually is, and we realize that children’s imaginations aren’t always nurtured to their full potential in day-to-day environments. Additionally, parents, guardians, and caretakers are often so worn out from work, errands, and daily life that they feel burnt out or unimaginative by the time bedtime rolls around. They will often reach for a book or story that’s been read/told countless times over to try to maximize those precious bonding moments with their children, but what if they could put their kids in the driver’s seat at storytime and empower their complex imaginations to conjure up an entertaining bedtime tale all of their own? We decided to apply our shared technical expertise to create a transformative storytime experience that strengthens the special bond of bedtime reading while empowering children to find their creative voice and become their own storytellers by tapping into the power of AI.

Does SmartDreams allow you to save stories?

Absolutely! Children/parents are given the option to save, store, and continually revisit their favorite SmartDreams creations to keep the magic of their stories alive. Soon, we will also include a feature that enables parents to curate their top saved stories and publish them as a physical book that can be shared with and celebrated by the child’s family and friends.

Is SmartDreams safe for kids to use?

Yes. As parents of three children ourselves, we were diligent about designing an app that we would feel 100% confident letting our own children use. We stand behind a promise to parents that we will never sell or store any part of their child’s data and want them to rest assured that all of their family’s unique creations are kept private and secure within our interface. The app requires parent permission to operate and will only generate content and illustrations that are appropriate for all reading levels (ages 3+).

Will SmartDreams repeat stories if the same selections are made?

No, every single story that is generated on SmartDreams will be different from the last. That is part of the magic of the platform, made possible by the endless generative capacity of AI. Even if two children choose the very same selections at the same time, they will end up reading completely different stories that reflect their own imagination.

What can be expected from SmartDreams in the near future?

Some key features that will be added to the platform in the near future include:

  • Culturally-educational themes: In future iterations, parents will be able to teach their kids about multiple different cultures and themes through expanded culturally-specific storytelling options — allowing them the chance to imaginatively expose children to all walks of life from every corner of the world within seconds.

  • Voiceover: Customizable voiceover options for SmartDreams stories will soon be added to the platform to dictate the stories directly to the children who created them and bring the story to life in new ways.

  • Storybooks: Parents and children will soon be able to curate, order, and print physical copies of their favorite saved stories in order to share those top creations with their loved ones.

What reading level does SmartDreams’ stories generate?

The content that SmartDreams generates can be understood by readers as young as 3 years old but also resonates with older kids as they continue to develop their reading skills and activate their imagination in a fun and stimulating way. While earlier ages will rely upon parents to be the narrators who bring the unique tales to life, others can nurture their reading skills and expand their comprehension by reciting the story aloud for themselves, their families, and their friends.

What themes are incorporated into the stories?

SmartDreams incorporates the general values and core principles that many parents and guardians are already teaching children from an early age, including messaging around: an emphasis on being kind, trying your best, showing empathy, inclusivity, ongoing learning, anti-bullying, and other universal themes that are seamlessly weaved into each unique narrative without detracting from the excitement and adventure of a user-generated storytime. However, it’s important to note that we are not trying to propagate any particular message or set of values. Rather, we are designing SmartDreams to emphasize the magic of the imagination and unlock the creativity of each child as they head into dreamland.

Why should parents reach for a mobile device with SmartDreams at bedtime over the multitude of children’s books that are already out there?

Great question! As parents, our reasoning is two-fold:

  1. We believe that it’s important to familiarize children with the changing landscape of technology and get them excited about the power/magic of STEM fields as early in life as possible. We’re always teaching our kids to understand and use new technologies for the greater good, which is at the core of what we’re doing with SmartDreams. We know that there’s still so much left to be discovered within STEM fields, and the possibilities that science and technology can unlock for children as they mature and start to utilize these technical tools as the building blocks to bring their ideas to life are endless.

  2. While we love reading classic children’s stories to our kids, they often grow tired of hearing the same tales over and over. This platform was born out of our lived experience — when our own child asked us to tell her a new story with specific narrative elements right there on the spot. SmartDreams allows each child’s ideas to be immediately incorporated into a bedtime story to encourage their creative expression and push the boundaries of their imagination.

Please describe Generative AI for the entrepreneurs and parents of our audience, in your own words.

Generative AI basically enables software and machines to do what has been the exclusive domains of humans to this point. Which is two things. First, to learn - to read and self-expand knowledge and content. The second - as the name suggests - is to GENERATE new things. You will see a lot of examples of people writing essays or making their resume or whatever with generative AI. Because with the right information, generative AI can in fact create things from scratch.

The big innovation that makes generative AI so compelling now is that systems like ChatGPT offer it in an incredibly easy-to-use chat format. Anyone with basic internet skills can go to ChatGPT and ask it to create anything. In the same way that the internet itself let anyone go to any website and access, read or buy anything - and also easily create their own websites - generative AI will again transform the way humans interact with machines.

Why are apps using this technology becoming such a trend?

Because the possibilities are endless. SmartDreams is a great example of that. We took something creative young kids ask parents everyday and put generative AI to work to create personal, unique bedtime stories based on your child’s own imagination. Remember when it became easy to make a website and anyone could have an online store selling their own creations? Well, generative AI makes it 100X easier to do 100X more powerful and truly creative things. And that is the keyword - creative. Generative AI can invent new things based on minimal input.

Do you see any dangerous implications with the path ahead when it comes to powerful technologies like ChatGPT or Generative AI?

All technologies - really all human progress - can have dangerous implications. We have already seen how social media platforms like Twitter can both be a force for such good - immediately spreading information about natural disasters and available help, and such bad - amplifying the voices of the hate-filled fringe amongst us. But remember - with social media or the internet itself or technologies like generative AI, the danger comes from the worst aspects of human nature itself. It comes from us. Social media isn’t itself good or bad, but can be USED for good or bad. Same with generative AI.

Given that, what is critical at these early stages is to focus on innovations that showcase the best uses of these new technologies. That makes human life better, that makes life easier, that advances the cause of education or equality, and so on. Again, with SmartDreams, we do just that. We enable children to turn imagination into personal bedtime stories. With a human-first, positive approach, generative AI can deliver incredible things that we are just now beginning to understand.

Why have you moved from Healthcare to children’s/lifestyle application development?

We haven’t moved, we’ve expanded. The very nature of being an entrepreneur is to be creative and think of new ideas. And one evening while we were working on our healthcare app, our four-year old daughter asked us for a bedtime story about a bear, a pizza and a forest and inspiration struck. What great entrepreneurs do is turn great ideas into reality. Is Apple a computer company or a mobile phone company or a content company? Yes to all, right?

Share a little bit about your professional background and why parents should look into SmartDreams for their children?

Renee is a medical doctor, Nick is an engineer and serial entrepreneur. We are first generation immigrants (from India) and education and family are extremely important to us for our three kids - as I am sure is true for most parents. SmartDreams is first and foremost a way to make the bedtime story ritual that much more creative, fun and interactive. Turn kids loose to make their own stories and read to them or have them read to you. In that sense, SmartDreams is a great way to encourage early childhood reading. In our own house, our 9 year old reads SmartDreams stories to his 4 year old sister and it is incredibly rewarding to watch. Heck, we even have parents who make their own stories just for a creative break.

What exactly inspired you to start SmartDreams?

Our 4 year old daughter asking for a story about a bear, a pizza and a forest... (see answer above in FAQ)

Do you aspire to now move into creating more applications that use the power of Generative AI? If so, why?

Yes, for the reasons stated above. Generative AI is as big an opportunity space as the internet was and as the smartphone was. A whole new world is upon us and we can reinvent so many aspects of daily life.

What challenges or obstacles have you faced so far with building this business. How are you overcoming them?

So far, we’ve been quite lucky that our challenges have just been keeping up with demand and opportunity.

What sets SmartDreams apart from other kid-friendly, bedtime story or storytelling apps?

SmartDreams is the first app in which the child creates their OWN story based on their OWN imagination and inputs. And, in which no two stories are alike. Every story is as unique as each child. SmartDreams can be used over and over again because no two stories are the same.

How did you past endeavours as an entrepreneur who developed apps for healthcare and other industries help you get this off the ground so quickly?

Well, we knew how to use technology, where to find developers and designers so it was mostly a matter of building the app, testing it and launching it as quickly as possible.

Please share your personal story about how you came up with the idea, involving your kid(s). Please include the first name and age of your child(ren) for fact checking and accuracy.

See story above. Our 4 year old daughter Leila was the inspiration for SmartDreams.

Where do you see generational AI in a few years? How does SmartDreams fit into that vision?

Generative AI will be transformative as the internet was. Imagine when the web really came along. Two short decades later, it revolutionized how we buy everything from food to clothes. It changed how we meet people - to date, to marry and to hire. It changed how we consume content - from DVDs to streaming.

And generative AI will change how we CREATE content. What a story is in the first place. What a movie is in the first place. And the last vestiges of where we are forced to wait on hold - for a doctor’s appointment, for customer service - etc. - will be replaced by generative AI.

As to SmartDreams, we hope it becomes a foundation for a new kind of interactive education that encourages creativity and equality and enables kids to be creators - which is their most naturally happy place.

Is there anything else parents should know about your app?

It is totally private, safe and secure and your child’s information will never be shared with any third party.