Colorbug is a company founded by Pixelbug in Dubai to create augmented reality (AR) “edutainment” games aimed at children, bringing stories and colouring books to life with the use of smartphones and tablets.
Players colour in a stencil on paper and use the phone’s camera to recreate the image on screen. The Colorbug app then brings the drawing to life using 3D animations to educate children on various topics.
The games are available in both Arabic and English
Here, Pixelbug’s founder Dany El Eid talks about his experiences and the outlook for Colorbug.
How did you get into augmented reality?
In 2012 I was already experimenting with augmented reality technology and was speaking with a contact of mine at Proctor and Gamble and mentioned starting my own company and whether they were interested to come on board as a client to provide them with a technology solution. That’s how essentially it kicked off with P&G as a client. We did a lot of project-based work, taking a brand or product and adapting it in ways to make it more engaging to the target audience, whether it was holograms or projection mapping. We also took on a project with Emirates Airlines which included bringing Einstein ‘back to life’ using a hologram.
What about Colorbug?
There is a big need for Arabic content and making learning more fun, so we are using our existing expertise in augmented reality to create games for kids. The biggest appetite for AR is among kids, who grow up with iPads. It’s intuitive, and natural for them. There is a belief that using technology is detrimental to growth – 30 per cent of leisure time is spent on passive play, which doesn’t enhance creativity and the imagination or motor skills and that was a problem we wanted to resolve. We have spoken to a lot of families and parents who were restricting technology and mobiles in their households, but you can’t fight against it, technology is everywhere. We tried to combine the traditional exercises, like colouring in the lines, while at the same time using technology to enhance the experience.
Who funded Pixelbug?
Everything was self-funded. The strategy was to reinvest from project-based work immediately. We’ve been profitable from the very beginning. The objective was to grow the team and fund more research and development. In 2012 it was just me, then by 2013 there was the three of us and now we are 10. We were the hotel lobby start-up, Dubai’s version of the Silicon Valley parent’s garage companies.
What is next for Colorbug?
We are focusing on developing and capitalising on the market, working with education specialists to create games that help with learning the alphabet, colouring in letters and words and we are also looking at rolling out 3D printing – you can colour in the characters and have them 3D printed and ordered to your home. We want to assess the appetite for kids making their own toys, if there is a big demand then we will bring 3D printing to the home, but these things take time. It is an evolution and it is takes time for things to be commoditised.
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