Osmo, the augmented reality platform for the Apple iPad, has won accolades for its kid-focused innovations. Games by the Palo Alto, California-based startup Tangible Play made Fast Company’s 2017 “most innovative” list and Time Magazine’s Best Inventions. And on Thursday, it’s launching a new platform: The Osmo iPhone Base.
“[Our team] has been working overdrive for months to make Osmo capable of running on an iPhone,” Osmo co-founder and CEO Pramod Sharma told Digital Trends. “This is no small technical feat.”
The biggest challenge was shrinking Osmo’s clip-on mirror and stand, which were originally designed to fit an iPad, down to the iPhone’s smaller form factor. Tangible Play’s AR apps and games use the iPad’s front-facing camera to perform object recognition; in Osmo Masterpiece, sketches on a physical notepad are transformed into digital drawings, and in Osmo Coding Awbie, physical blocks guide on-screen monsters on adventures.
The team decided to start from scratch, engineering a stand sturdy enough to hold the iPhone in place during play but compact enough to travel.
“The power of hands-on play has no limits and we should give kids as many opportunities for it as we can.”
“[We] had to ensure the same Osmo magic was still there […] it had to be fun,” Sharma said.
After more than three years of development, Tangible Play’s engineers settled on a solution: A plastic base that clamps onto the sides of any iPhone, extends vertically to a height of several inches, and folds compactly to fit in a drawstring bag.
“[It’s] one of the hardest things we’ve done” Sharma said.
Osmo iPhone Base, which goes on sale today, won’t require Osmo iPad users to repurchase any of the kits they already own. Kits including Coding Awbie, Monster, Coding Jam, Masterpiece, Words, and Pizza Co. are fully compatible with the iPhone.
That was crucial to the mission of “[expanding] the reach of educational and fun experiences that teach lifelong skill sets,” Sharma said. “The power of hands-on play has no limits and we should give kids as many opportunities for it as we can.”
He’s expecting big things from the iPhone Base, which comes on the heels of Osmo’s global expansion. Osmo kits are sold in over 50 countries and used in 22,000 schools, and Tangible Play recently inked a deal with Mattel to integrate Reflective Artificial Intelligence, Osmo’s core framework, with some of its brands.
“It’s such an important thing to do,” Sharma said.