Osmo, Groundbreaking App for Offline2Online Play
Osmo, the first multi-generational connected gaming device for the iPad, brings people together. Simple to use, kids, parents and grandparents can play together in a hyper-intuitive environment, making it an investment for the family and a fun learning experience. Osmo includes three different games, Words, Tangrams, and Newton. Each game creates a fun and educational experience that can be enjoyed by one or more player.
How did you came up with the concept of Osmo? Did you see a gap in the market as a parent, educator or as someone with technical know-how?
Really it was something that we thought of as parents first. We’d see kids glued to screens, hunched over and not interacting with people, and we began to think about the effects of of technology on kids growing up. So many useful life skills aren’t learned through textbooks and memorization, it takes soft social skills to have a successful professional and social life; we want to make sure our children have the important skills that can’t be automated by robots. So we began to make a totally new game experience that can keep a kid interested while creating an engaging and inviting environment that naturally gives kids a chance to interact socially and creatively reason.
With Osmo, we’re combining our expertise in games and and bridging the digital and the physical to make something truly unique that we’re both passionate about. Osmo’s mission is to bring real world play back into digital gaming, and we’re excited to have people join our new play movement!
What differentiates Osmo from other child oriented iPad games?
The biggest differentiation is that we are not solely an onscreen experience. Osmo’s reflective AI bridges the physical and digital world. This opens up many new creative ways to play. You are no longer confined to what you can do on a small screen, so you can start to pull in everyday items into the game. All of a sudden household objects like pen & paper, building blocks, even someones glasses can be used in a physical space to to solve the on screen puzzle.
Tell us about your team. Did you have all the expertise you needed to launch this product or did you have to outsource any of the components?
TangiblePlay was founded in 2013 by us, Jerome Scholler and myself (Pramod Sharma) -- two Stanford alums and ex-Googlers with kids.
Before starting Osmo I was working on the Google Books project. We used this massive machine with a system of cameras to quickly scan and digitize hundreds of thousands of books. This was really what gave me the inspiration for Osmo’s Reflective AI.
Jerome also worked at Google on the Chrome team and has tons of experience in game development working with Lucas Arts and Ubisoft. He really has an eye for great design and has kept us pushing to reach a level of quality and polish that matches an Apple or Pixar type experience.
What was the development process like? How long did it take?
We have been working in Osmo for a little over a year now. Development for the product started with Jerome and I working in my garage cutting prototypes of Osmo out of wood. Eventually we moved up to 3D printers and more advanced equipment until we were finally ready for manufacturing in China.
The development of the software was far more straightforward but equally challenging for Jerome and I. We are both engineers and love to code, so creating Osmo’s Reflective AI took a lot of time and effort it was something we knew how to do.
What are some of the biggest challenges you encountered so far?
Building a physical product was definitely a challenging for us. Making Osmo’s Reflective AI was hard, but as engineers Jerome and I were both up to the task and knew what we needed to do. With building hardware we had to learn as we went along. Both of us have very exacting standards when it comes to quality and design, and at first we just didn't have the tools and skillset to get our prototypes to meet the image of Osmo we had in our head. Eventually we got there though and now we have the beautifully designed product we first imagined.
Did you raise funds to launch Osmo or was it self funded?
We raised a small seed round as we got ready to open our pre-sales campaign. We raised another $2M in device sales through our pre-order campaign over the past few months.
I see Osmo will be launching in November, what’s next for Osmo after the launch?
Right now we are focused on delivering Osmo to all of our backers and making improvements to our user experience. We recently launched MyOsmo a feature that lets users customize Words, creating and sharing new puzzles of their own. We are very excited about that and our eager to see what our community of backers does with it!
Interview with Pramod Sharma of Osmo Media