Faces iMake is one of my children’s favorite iPhone apps. It has been from the moment it appeared on my phone and it continues to be an app that they return to again and again. This artistic app is based on the art of Hanoch Piven and allows you to create art from ordinary objects. I had the chance to interview Eyal Dessou-Tzafrir about his work as an app developer and I thank him for the glimpse into his own development process.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Eyal Dessou-Tzafrir. I’m 37, a husband and a father to 2 amazing little girls named Emma and Lia. We live at the moment in Tel-Aviv, Israel. I’m a dreamer, entrepreneur, investor, bars owner and former pop star.
What were you doing before you began developing iPhone apps?
I was working for a big telecom operator where I was in charge of the content for new devices, building the teams and establishing wireless brands.Before that I was in a band for 4 years. The most unbelievable ride of my life, it was a journey that started and never ended. This experience showed me that anyone can be and do whatever they imagine. I have imagined iMagine machine.
What was the reason you made the jump into development?
Previously working for a big telecom company and being involved in content made the jump very natural but this time it was much bigger, more exciting and less restraining. Being a dad who is very much involved in my kids education I saw this iDevice as a new and exiting way to explore new possibilities in education.
The choice to jump into this field came from the fact that the iPhone was not a phone. It was this new touch magical machine and from the get go I understood that I was witnessing something that is as new and futuristic as I ever thought I could experience. It was not just another phone but a real mobile platform that can entertain, teach, explore, innovate and all with one or two fingers.
How did you get started?
It all started with a vision I had that kids can explore music creation by “drawing music”. That vision never happened. The idea was amazing in my head but could not be translated into the app I wanted. It was a learning progress from brainstorming to finding the right graphic artist that can take my vision and put it too life. Then came the idea of musical coloring books. Itsy bitsy spider and Halloween came to the world. They were my ticket to this amazing world.
How did the idea for Faces iMake come about?
Our daughters go to a “Democratic School”. It cannot be described so much in words but a major part of it is about finding your authentic voice and helping the you (the kid) in cultivating your strengths so when things get rough you will have the most important thing – YOU. It’s about how learning can be achieved in many ways and not necessarily from sitting in a classroom and memorizing facts. It opened my horizons to what can be done and I saw that I can make a difference by developing edutainment applications that can enrich the user knowledge and experiences, but not in the regular way. No awards. No who is best. But Yes to creativity. Yes to open end games. Yes to cognitive thinking.
This is what Faces iMake is all about – Finding your voice and knowing that you can express it in any way that you desire.
Hanoch Piven is all that and so much more. The fact that you can look at the world not from a regular point of view, where for example an orange is just a fruit, but it can also be a nose, a head, a heart can really change the way you look at the world.
What can children (and their parents) learn from an artistic app like Faces iMake?
With Faces iMake we (Hanoch and I ) are bringing a creativity tool to kids and adults alike who think that being artistic and creative applies to someone else but not them. With Faces iMake we give a creative voice for children and adults with disabilities. We have created a tool that is as educational as it is fun !!!
Kids and their parents can learn that they can cultivate their authentic voice without the worries of how it turns out. Faces iMake is deceiving in the way that it looks like a simple “vegetables” “food app” but in fact it stimulates you to what is possible in your game and in your life. These are the cards you got – now make amazing things out of them.
What direction do you see apps for children heading in? How has the iPad impacted apps for children?
I think that the iPad has change the game forever because the ability to have a touch screen that can be manipulated in that size, anywhere you want brings new opportunities for board games, interactive books, family time, reading, learning. I think that will see them more and more in schools as part of the system – same as whiteboards. New interactive books of course. New ways to express your creativity. I imagine for example a new musical “toy” that will enable anyone to create music even if you don’t know how to play and share it with the world.
What’s been the most rewarding thing about producing educational apps for children?
I think that the fact that with my dreams I can inspire other people. I feel that with an app I can be an enabler of people’s creativity, of knowing that there is no right or wrong way to do things.
What is your personal favorite app? The one you use most often?
Dropbox – really makes it easy for me and the team to share anything without the need of sync or email.
iMagine Machine Apps available in iTunes: