Operate & Optimise
Picoo, a source of infinite fun for indoor playgrounds
Discover Picoo, a ground-breaking innovation
The Picoo set is a ground-breaking innovation for indoor playgrounds. The first interactive game sets will become available in 2018. ELI Play has signed an exclusive agreement with Picoo for the sale of the Pro version. The Pro is the series’ top-of-the-line model.
ELI Play avoided interactive technology in its playgrounds for ten years, believing it to be too complex, too prone to malfunctions and too expensive, while offering too little entertainment value. That time is now over. “Picoo is a fantastic addition to our product range,” says René van de Ven, ELI Play’s managing director. “With a relatively small investment, this interactive game set is a great way for entrepreneurs to add significant value to their parks. They do not have to build any complicated structures or come up with spectacular new ideas to give their parks a boost.”
Iris Soute came up with Picoo while working on her post-master degree at the Technical University in Eindhoven. Together with two fellow students, she wanted to do something for kids that combined technology with outdoor play. How can you get children to run and fly around and add a new dimension to their experience?
Kids are fascinated by technology, but they cannot play outside and watch a screen at the same time.
Iris Soute, Picoo
Through careful observation, it became clear what kinds of interaction kids do and do not enjoy. “During a game, different dynamics occur than what you imagined while sitting at the drawing board,” Iris says. “It is an iterative process. You come up with something, test it and then improve upon it. It quickly became clear to us that the game and the children’s experiences should be the key factors, not the technology itself.”
What is Picoo, exactly?
Iris: “Picoo is a game computer in the shape of a flashlight. It has an on/off switch and does not require GPS or Wi-Fi to work. By holding a card in front of it, the computer knows which game the children want to play. The device is equipped with sensors and has features such as sound, lighting and vibration. Picoo reacts to movement and touch and it can detect when other devices are near. Picoo’s best-known game is Vibration Tag. This game requires at least four players, each of whom gets their own handheld. The devices create the teams: red versus blue. That prevents arguments about who teams up with whom and who gets picked last. One of the players gets the vibration. The others have to find out who has it. You can pass it on to each other or steal it by standing close to each other. The team in possession of the vibration after two minutes is the winner.” Picoo is as simple as a ball. If you have enough players, the game can begin. Iris’ idea won the National Sports Innovator Award in 2016. Its subsequent development took longer than expected, however. Iris: “It takes time to turn an idea into a good product.” The news that ELI Play and Picoo will be collaborating closely has accelerated the process.
What does the collaboration between ELI Play and Picoo entail?
Metatronics from Eindhoven is responsible for the electronics. Van Berlo, also from Eindhoven, will take care of the intuitive design. We will develop an app and write a manual and investors will bring in the necessary funding in order to create “a wonderful, strong, ‘asshole-proof’ product.” ELI Play will be the exclusive retailer of Picoo’s Pro edition. The Pro version has been specifically designed for leisure applications. It is more robust and offers significantly more features than the basic edition.
René: “This is a ground-breaking add-on. Indoor playgrounds have been around for 25 years. There is little innovation, even though that is exactly what entrepreneurs want. When Picoo came along, I liked it right away. It operates independently. You do not need to install any displays or wires in a playground to use this system. It can easily be added to existing game concepts.” Nevertheless, René encountered some resistance to the idea within ELI Play itself.
Can something that was designed for outdoor use also function properly indoors?
René: “I had a critical colleague test Picoo for themselves at Monkey Town in Arnhem. He played with the system together with three children and was sold immediately.” Iris and René decided that Iris will soon look into the question of whether trampoline parks are also suitable for interactive games. René: “Our worlds intertwine perfectly. This is the start of a learning process. I have no idea where this road will take us.” Iris: “We currently have seven games and enough ideas for a hundred more.”
We will be able to send our clients updates to download, so they can offer children a new experience every time. The system will be a never-ending source of fun.
René van de ven