Published: 21st November 2018
PlayShifu tells us why Augmented Reality toys are the next best teachers
Is AR the need of the hour? AR expert Vivek Goyal talks about the pros and cons of AR toys and how these toys are different from conventional toys
Vivek Goyal and partner Dinesh Advani spent a lot of time watching their kids play at home while enjoying their successful corporate careers. It was during this adorable daddy-phase that they realised that children were fast learners who quickly became bored of physical toys. The need for making toys that evolve every day and teaching children something new every day — this was the turning point that led to the birth of AR start-up PlayShifu in 2016. "We were on the path of having very successful careers, but at the back of our mind, we always wanted to have our own start-up. What inspired us to build on this idea was our little toddlers at home who taught us the importance of learning through play" says Vivek.
Own it: PlayShifu owners Vivek Goyal and Dinesh Advani
Vivek Goyal, who graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 2008 after completing his MTech, worked in Procter and Gamble for over a year, managing their product supply chain. He later moved to the US to pursue his Master's in Business Administration from Stanford University. After years of waiting to have his own start-up, he stepped up and took a bold move with Dinesh Advani to start PlayShifu. "I researched the learning capacities of children only to find out that children below ten are fast learners and that the sensory organs are their best teachers. The education received in school was on-point, but self-learning was equally important. This was when we decided to bridge the gap between learning and playtime learning, we began developing AR toys that would challenge a child to something new every day," he says.
Yes, there is scope of AR being implemented in the school curriculum, but Vivek believes that the playground has something more to teach, "We are not looking at implementing AR in an academic curriculum right now, we want to implement fundamentals of learning via playtime and other physical activities. This stimulates imagination in every child, thus leading to learning. You must be wondering how AR toys will be more effective than regular clichéd toys like Hotwheels and Barbies. These toys are physically constant and have nothing new to teach every day. AR has a new activity every single day imbibing a new learning concept," he says.
Play and learn: The world famous Augmented Reality globe
Any activity that is physical in nature makes a lasting impression in children. Activities also help in developing motor-skills essential for the growth and development of every child. Vivek goes on to say that, "This is where PlayShifu's AR toys come useful in balancing physical activity and screen-time exposure. This merge of physical and digital play has been accepted globally and it is a proud moment for PlayShifu to be recognised. The technology has gone through days of trial and testing, multiple schools and learning centres in Bengaluru have tested our technology and I am so glad they loved it."
Do you know that the best part about this technology is that you don't really need to purchase anything? If you're wondering what the cost factor is and who the target audience is, Vivek says, "Any smartphone can be used to access our AR tool. The app can be downloaded for free, but side-by-side, our toys can be purchased on Amazon. The toys that are available are flashcards and the AR Globe."