Playgrounds may seem old school to some kids when compared to the latest video games, but Hybrid Play’s interactive game system turns swing sets and seesaws into games controllers through a mobile app available for iOS and Android devices. The company hopes this open-source, customizable toy will encourage kids to play outside more and spur social interaction.
All the hardware is contained in a single large weather- and impact-resistant “clothespin” that clips onto swings, slides, and seesaws. Within the clip, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and IR sensors on an Arduino board track the playing children and relay their movement information via low-energy Bluetooth to the mobile app, which translates it into in-game action.
Because a parent would hardly want a child playing on a phone while trying to hold onto a swing, the mobile app is meant to be controlled by another child or parent. But Hybrid Play describes this as a benefit, teaching “communication, collaboration and group-play” with a child’s peers and parents.
Games have virtual goals, such as collecting items and exploring a city, but Hybrid Play has also modified vintage games, such as Pac-Man and TRON, to work with the system. The person holding the mobile device shouts out directions to control the virtual action, while those playing on equipment do their best to fulfill the instructions by swinging faster or moving more in a certain direction.
The system also encourages creativity off the playground by allowing users to add new games or modify existing ones by making the software open source. Integration with Gamesonomy, a visual programming language, is intended to make it easy to create game content, and the company will also have Scratch integration.
Hybrid Play is the latest in a string of devices that leverage technology with the aim of getting kids off the couch by blending the real and virtual worlds. The Wii really kicked off the trend that has continued with the development of systems, such as MoleBot and Loop, which also encourages kids to get outdoors.
Hybrid Play is set to be launched on Indiegogo likely on September 30, with the company's introductory video below demonstrating a playground-turned-video game in action.
Source: Hybrid Play