Amsterdam startup Peekabond keeps long-distance families talking and playing

Several new features introduced to the Peekabond app promise to bridge the gap between family members scattered all over the world. The app was developed by the Amsterdam tech startup, also called Peekabond, as its CEO looked for a new way to bond with her niece, a toddler growing up in Australia.

The video messenger app is specifically meant for families with young children, with games and science-based play activities to connect people regardless of where they are, or what their current time zone is. The free app was first launched in English a year ago on iOS and Android, with a Dutch version set for release within days.

In the latest version, the app includes a wide range of Virtual Family Challenges that are silly and fun, especially for children. Family members can easily send competitive videos to each other, like comparing who can take the biggest bite out of a stroopwafel, or to find out who is the most skilled at balancing a spoon on their nose for the longest period of time. The videos are recorded and sent in the chat, and children can watch them at the right moment, instead of forcing them to be live on a call at an awkward time. Everyone can then react to the videos, and send different types of reactions to one another, all guided by the app’s interface.

“We believe that what makes people happy is strong relationships, and Peekabond is committed to ensuring that these relationships between children and family members can be built, no matter the distance,” said Anieke Lamers. The Peekabond CEO was born and raised in the Netherlands, and has also spent time living in several different countries. She told NL Times she is very aware of the difficulty someone many time zones away from their family has when trying to communicate with them. Tens of thousands of Dutch people emigrate from the Netherlands every year, according to Statistics Netherlands.

Her sister is one of them, and now lives in Australia. Lamers said she wanted to find a way to have more fun talking to her niece. “The Peekabond app offers a fun and engaging way to bring families together, to laugh and make memories together that will last a lifetime,” she said. “Peekabond is committed to ensuring that these relationships between children and family members can be built, no matter the distance.”

A whole collection of ideas, riddles, contests, and creative activities are involved, but that does not mean it is all fun and games behind the scenes. The app was also designed to promote teamwork and problem-solving. By creating different ways to keep families close, the company said its users have also been able to reduce feelings of loneliness, which can be as dangerous to one’s health as smoking ten cigarettes a day.

Peekabond asked some of its users to score the quality of their long-distance family relationships before and after using the app. Those scores were about 20 percent higher after using the app for just one month.

“It’s an amazing feeling to know how present my sister is in my life, and that she knows about my deepest struggles and successes even though she is in Australia and I am in Europe,” Lamers said. “And I want to be that person for my little nieces in Australia. And I want to enable that for families worldwide.”

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