Pew Pew! Vroom vroom! Chugga chugga! Time was when playtime special effects were whatever weird sounds you could make with your mouth. Not anymore! Moff is an app-powered snap bracelet designed to get kids up and active by turning arm motions into all kinds of cool audio snippets.
After a super successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, the smart accessory is now available for purchase. I got to slap one on and give it a go — and I had a freaking blast.
Now, I am not exactly Moff's target audience. I am an old who lost her youthful exuberance and general joie de vivre decades ago — the anti-child, if you will. And yet, there are some similarities: Kids these days are spending more and more time on increasingly smaller screens, just like all of us boring ol' grown-ups. Movement is minimal — a few finger taps and swipes and a whole lot of passive zoning out. Moff Founder Akinori Takahari wanted to create a way to engage the next generation to get physical, encouraging activity and imagination to work together in tandem and draw collective attention away from smartphones, laptops, TVs, and the rest of those largely inert time wasters.
The product was dreamed up after an internet-of-things focused hackathon in Osaka last year — kind of. Takahari and his team came up with a concept for a special form of communication tool between family members. Sounds cool! But upon further IRL research outside the 'thon, it turned out that no IRL family members were interested; demand was just about zero. So they started considering other options, and began developing this clever prototype.
Takahari explained that the name means "friendly" or "soft" in Japanese, which is how he sees this bright orange, single-button interface. The "face" is outfitted with an accelerometer and a gyro-sensor that use pattern recognition to sense and interpret wrist gestures and positions. It links up to a (free) app via bluetooth, which allows the user to select any one of 13 categories — from Percussion to Baseball to Cooking — with a current total of 30 possible noises.
So what's it like to wear one? Takahari and I each donned a Moff and pressed the single button. He synced us up. And then? We were samurai warriors. We were rockstars. We were in a toy gun shootout. In the span of a quick five minutes, we had assumed a myriad of new identities — even as dogs and cats — and I was ever-so-slightly winded when we finally put our hands down. I was also laughing (a lot) and smiling (big).
Though it's way in the future, Takahari is already considering how to incorporate it into a Guitar-Hero-like game, capitalising on familiar tunes and getting adults in on the action.
Kickstarter backers have already received their products and the Moff is available from Amazon Japan, but starting October 30 it will be available for $US54.99 from Amazon US. Methinks it might be a nice little giftie for a fun-loving tot in your life. Or a sedentary blogger. (I've been wearing it on "animal" mode while I'm typing and it's pretty silly each time I reach for my coffee. Yes, I work alone from home, why do you ask?) [Moff]