Oriboo might be the coolest toy/gadget I’ve seen since Tamagotchi dominated the school’s playgrounds. It is a handheld robotic motion-sensitive (gyro and accelerometer) game console, disguised as a charming little “ball on a belt”. Oriboo gives you instructions and guides you with its eyes, sounds, moves and display. You play the Oriboo games using your own body, moving together with Oriboo in various ways, i.e. in the “Dance It” game you are challenged to perform moves such as spin and jump in an increasing tempo.
I talked to Jin Moen, founder and CEO of Movinto Fun, the company behind the product.
Originally from Norway, MSc in Engineering Physics, BFA in Dance Education and a PhD in Human Computer Interaction
Jin Moen is 38 years old, married and has two kids. She is originally from Norway but moved to Sweden in 1995. She has a MSc in Engineering Physics, BFA in Dance Education and a PhD in Human Computer Interaction.
She founded Movinto fun in 2007 after doing some consulting gigs and previously she worked on different innovative research projects at Interactive Institute in Stockholm. She focused on interdisciplinary, user centred and design oriented research, that in addition to Oriboo, resulted in product ideas such as the Aware Clock, which now is commercialised and has been exhibited around the world.
Jin Moen continues, “My mission is to spread pleasure of motion to everybody. One of my favourite quotes is ‘It’s impossible, but doable’.”
Handheld robotic motion-sensitive game console
Oriboo is a product that makes people move and have fun. It is a completely new way of approaching the game market. Technology wise, it is a handheld robotic motion-sensitive (gyro and accelerometer) game console, disguised as a charming little “ball on a belt”. Experience wise, Oriboo is a personal game companion that you can play, dance and challenge yourself and your friends with. It offers renewable and unlimited game variations since new games and apps are easily downloaded directly to the Oriboo device. It is personalised and styled according to your preferences using stickers and other bling.
Oriboo is a completely stand-alone and portable device, it does not require an external screen or TV, meaning that you do not need to clear your living room in order to play. You can just go outside and play wherever you want, whenever you want. It has the size of a tennis ball and weights only ca 170 grams, so it fits in your pocket.
Oriboo offer a variety of games and apps, both skill-based, dance routines and creative play. All games and apps have in common that they require the player to move in some way or another. The instructions and feedback are communicated with Oriboo’s eye animations, sounds, its movements and graphically on the screen.
When I asked Jin about the target demographic, she commented, “Oriboo engages the whole family, people of all ages, both male and female. However, today our current games are primarily developed for kids aged 8-14. We have also designed both Oriboo and the games in order to make sure that they engage the girls, which traditionally has been a kind of neglected target group within gaming and cool tech gadgets.”
Moving from Kista to Åre
Since 2007, Oriboo has been developed in the labs of Movinto Fun, first in Kista and nowadays in Åre. Oriboo’s cute design, its smart technology, and the fun and creative games, have little by little been developed by the Oriboo team in close collaboration with the end users. Until today, Oriboo has been tested by more than 10 000 people of all ages and has continuously been fine-tuned and improved
“Since we launched we have twice as many people working in the company. As a new product it is crucial to work on the product awareness and make sure that Oriboo is on every child’s wish list for Christmas. Hence, the PR and Event department has worked with famous artists and ambassadors such as Timoteij, Sofia Wikstam, etc, and this summer we toured all over Sweden together with Nickelodeon and artists such as Sean Banan, Markoolio, and Anton Edwall, and met with over 70 000 kids and their parents. We are selling Oriboo in sores such as NK in Stockholm, Barnens Hus, Lekia, and other selected sport, lifestyle and toy stores, and of course on our website oriboo.com.
In addition to all the marketing and sales activities, we are of course developing new products, and are releasing new games and apps for Oriboo on a regular basis. These are digitally distributed through our website.”
Running a startup in Åre
In Fall 2010, Movinto moved our headquarters from Kista outside Stockholm to Åre. They saw great opportunities in the dynamic environment that Åre offers and to make use of that as a market, test and development platform, and this was quickly verified as soon as they arrived.
“The core values of Åre and its brand are active lifestyle, innovation, entrepreneurship, trends and designs – values that coincide well with what Movinto Fun and Oriboo’s stands for. Here we can also offer our team members a unique combination of exciting and challenging job opportunities and outstanding spare time activities all year around, e.g. hiking, skiing, downhill, kiting, etc.
We definitely encourage flexible work hours in order to make use of the latest night’s heavy snowfall, etc. We have also recruited people from all over Sweden as well as from Asia.
Even though Åre might be mostly know for its tourism related companies, there are several IT and start up companies in the region. However, we would definitely encourage more start up companies in Åre.”
Back in 2007, they attended the magazine Wired’s Next Fest exhibition in Los Angeles and received a lot of attention. Since than, they have operated kind of in a stealth mode regarding international press and focused on product commercialisation
“Last year we participated at LeWeb in Paris and got a lot of interest, and we are currently increasing our international contacts and thus visibility and yes, over the years we have several times been asked if Oriboo is a Japanese product.”
Oriboo is currently focusing on increasing the software product portfolio by including more games and units for the Oriboo. They will also focus on establishing Movinto Fun and Oriboo on an international market:
“We have always seen Oriboo as a global product, and uses Sweden as a good test market. Hence, we are of course planning how to launch Oriboo internationally. We are also expanding our games and apps portfolio to include platforms such as smartphones, and are currently developing exciting and innovative dance and movement games that will be launched in 2014.”
It truly is an interesting product they’re working on, I think the biggest challenge will be making sure that the product is up-to-date and maintaining a community around it.