Blasters, bots, brain teasers & board games.
At the world’s largest technology show, CES 2019, we saw blasters, bots, board games and brain teasers that get kids and families moving, playing, learning and engaging with each other using AR technology.
With an anticipated growth of 200% over the next five years, connected play is more than just fun and games. According to Juniper Research, “Smart Toys will represent an $18 billion hardware and software market by 2023, up from an estimated $6 billion in 2018.” With that kind of growth it comes as no surprise that innovators from around the world are creating new ways for kids to play, learn and explore the world with cool connected experiences.
The most innovative of these companies have begun designing experiences that are transforming the way families move, play, live and learn.
Nerf Laser Ops Pro – Hasbro
CES KAPi Award Winner, Nerf Laser Ops Pro by Hasbro combines the active play of Nerf blaster play with popular augmented video game features, such as game modes, scorekeeping, and leaderboards.
Right out of the box, Nerf Laser Ops Pro blasters are ready for head-to-head, live-action laser battles with unlimited shots of infrared bursts. You have the choice to play connected with their smartphone for an an extra competitive experience, or use just their blaster for a more conventional Nerf battle.
The Nerf Laser Ops app offers access to real-time battle intel allowing you to customize your blasters, track your performance, earn power-ups, locate opponents during battle and check out how you stack up against others via the global leaderboard.
Attach your smartphone to the Alphapoint Blaster, launch the Nerf Laser Ops app (from the App Store or Google Play), select single player and jump into a drone-zapping, video game-like AR experience.
A total of 64 players can play in one game; that’s more than most laser tag arenas. Nerf Laser Ops Pro is available online or at major retailers.
MekaMon – Reach Robotics
Reach Robotics is constantly evolving and growing as they continue “using robotics technology to create products that entertain, inspire, and ultimately educate” said Silas Adekunle, Reach Robotics CEO and Co-Founder.
With gamified learning systems built directly into the Reach Edu app, MekaMon builds on a wealth of research from kids, parents and teachers to develop a game-like experience in which the user forgets they’re even learning.
Launching with three core educational features, including animation, draw, and a new visual programming suite, MekaCode, the app will include easily accessible activities and goal oriented ‘Missions’ that can be experienced at a pace that suits both students and educators. Students will be able solo or in multiplayer matches.
MekaMon V2 is currently available on MekaMon.com, Amazon.com and Apple.com. Operating alongside the existing MekaMon gaming app, Reach EDU will officially go live in Q1 2019.
GEIO – GJS Robots
Powered by AI technology, virtual recognition and a high speed motor systems, GEIO from GJS Robots offers a multitude of immersive features for an action-packed robotic warfare experience.
Endowed with an ability referred to as “vision”, GEIO can be used to attack enemy targets accurately via the app interface First Person View; there’s even facial recognition to recognize enemies and the owner. The experience is packed with AR lasers missiles, bombs, and a wide arsenal of various other weaponry. You also have the ability to code your GEIO to your liking. You can play individually or in multiplayer mode. GEIO is currently available on Amazon.com.
PaiBots – Pai Technology
PaiBots created by Pai Technology allow kids to create one of six customizable robots using a series of easy-to-follow in-app tutorials. Not only will they build their mechanical buddy from the ground up, but they’ll can also code its actual programming too. There are over 30 interactive augmented reality puzzles that enable early learners to explore coding concepts like sequencing, looping, visual programming and more. The PaiBots are packed with motors, sensors and bluetooth connectivity that allow PaiBots to move, dance, create music and lights, and more. PaiBots will be available later this year.
Plugo – Shifu
Plugo, created by Shifu, is an AR gaming system designed to stimulate STEM skills through the power of augmented reality and education. By fusing physical and digital play Plugo unites gaming and learning math, vocabulary, dexterity, logical reasoning, critical thinking and more. Kids are engaged with games such as Quest, Count, Link, Steer and Piano. Download the app from the App Store or Google Play, roll out your Plugo gaming base, insert your tablet, place the device on the gamepad, and connect your kit of choice for the ultimate customized gaming and learning experience. Available later this year.
British startup SwapBots, produces customizable toys that come to life through augmented reality. The system uses AR technology to create a spectacular, interactive video game world around a physical toy. By swapping pieces of the SwapBots, the player can influence various in-game attributes. The toy is ‘scanned’ by a mobile device to unlock it in the game using an advanced version of marker-based augmented reality. As the digital animation is overlaid onto the physical toy, it gives the appearance that the video game has broken out of the screen and arrived into the real world. The SwapBots toys can be assembled in hundreds of combinations, each of which results in differing in-game abilities. Available online later this year.
The Explorers – Unicorn Games
Unicorn Games’ The Explorers, part of The Electric Factory’s Incubator Rabbit, is a board game series that combines both traditional and augmented reality dynamics; serving as a bridge between digital and physical worlds.
Unicorn Games took what’s best about conventional turn-based board games – sitting around a table next to friends – and took it to the next level with AR-generated special effects that bring the game board to life, Jumanji-style. The best part is these games are intergenerational, allowing children and adults to find a place to enjoy playtime together.
Each game is played using an app that includes mini-game challenges, treasure hunts, and augmented reality objects.
The Explorers has sold more than 42,000 units across four Latin American countries, received three international awards and is looking to expand in North America and other markets.