So what do a bunch of Carnegie Mellon University graduates who spent time making a children’s museum exhibit to help teach the fundamentals of logic and computer science using puzzle pieces do after graduation? Take that idea and run with it.
Digital Dream Labs is a startup out of Pittsburg that is taking to Kickstarter to fund a production run of their edutainment hardware, the cloudBoard. The board, when paired with a computer or tablet over bluetooth, acts as an interface to a game. Players create a program that the characters on screen use to complete tasks by assembling RFID-enabled puzzle pieces on the cloudBoard. Each puzzle piece features an action, loop or modifier that tell the character how to move on screen. Their prototype game, Cork the Volcano requires that the players help the hero navigate each stage by planning move and jump actions to solve puzzles. For a better demonstration of how this all works together, check out their Kickstarter pitch video.
It looks really cool. And Digital Dream Labs are building an open platform around the cloudBoard that developers can extend further. The hardware is designed to work with Mac and PC, iPad and Android, and there are more ideas for games that the team is toying with, including learning about chemistry or music.
No Kickstarter campaign are without their challenges, however. Digital Dream Labs are open and upfront about the risks, including stating that this is their first foray into manufacturing. But it sounds like they’ve done their research, including a trial run of a smaller board to iron out any problems with manufacturing. They’re also working with all US-based companies, which is great, and it certainly sounds like they’ve done their planning.