Any parent who has had to wrestle their iPad away from their children and tried to get them to spend time doing something more productive will know, it’s nigh on impossible. But one ex-Google engineer has come up with the ideal solution, which marries these devices with a nifty add-on, to turn the child’s everyday toys into an educational lesson.
The ‘Osmo’ is the brainchild of Pramod Sharma, and co-founder, Jerome Scholler, and works by using the iPad’s camera to trigger the software of the Osmo into an interactive learning experience. When objects are placed in front of the camera, the Osmo instantly recognises them and displays puzzles and animations on the iPad for the children to work out, or copy.
Sharma designed the Osmo after noticing that his daughter loved spending time playing with his iPad:
“Intuitively it felt wrong for her to be hunched over playing games for so long, and she would just sort of tune the rest of the world out while she played.”
But instead of restricting her gaming use, Sharma decided to make her addiction beneficial, by creating an educational game that would teach her as she played along.
So far Sharma has developed three games for the Osmo:
- Tangram: Match your puzzle pieces to those show on the iPad screen.
- Newton: Based on Newton’s cradle, draw quickly to avoid the falling balls.
- Words: Guess the hidden on-screen word by throwing down your letters faster than your friends.
Sharma wants to add more games to the Osmo package, and is intending to open up the system to other game developers:
“We believe we can add magic to so many existing tangible experiences.”
Sharma kept the design simple so that children could have a hassle-free playing experience. And for the parents, the key point is that the kids never touch the screen of the iPad, which was a major bugbear with many of them. The beauty of the Osmo is that the games are endless, as the children use everyday objects to make up new game scenarios.
The main goal of the Osmo however, was to make the iPad a more social gaming experience, where children could come together, sharing their toys and interacting through the iPad, not sitting alone, glued to it, by themselves. And Sharma had a good way of testing the Osmo, as his daughter was a pretty harsh critic:
“I have a daughter and I can tell you that its really hard to keep her engaged with something just because it’s educational or high-tech or good for her.”
Sharma also wanted the quality of the product to reflect that of the iPad’s:
“As we worked, our target was ‘how would Apple, or Pixar, or Google build this? We kept working until we had built something that could stand alongside that level of quality.”
The Osmo was created as an add-on to the iPad and Sharma believes this is where the industry should be heading in the future, so he designed part of his product to fix exactly in the base station when the Apple device is removed.
The Osmo will retail for $99 but early birds can take advantage of a reduced price of $49 by pre-ordering on https://www.playosmo.com/ for an October delivery.