Now that more emphasis than ever before is being placed on “playing smart”, i.e. providing one’s family with gifts that are not just fun to play with, but educational as well, one Italian company has launched a Crowdfunding campaign to raise capital for a product that could provide the perfect solution. Fizzly. The campaign is rewarding pledgers with a special “early bird” price for the product, which will ship in April 2015, but which could well prove worth the wait.
Fizzly is a tiny device, a colourful, wearable smart tracker with a sophisticated movement sensing technology, which taps into the current zeitgeist by cleverly exploiting the public’s fascination with the Internet of Things (IOT). Activated and controlled by any smartphone device or tablet, in theory Fizzly has an almost unlimited number of uses, from interactive game, to fashion accessory, sports and social media tool, to a range of more practical uses.
The device uses Bluetooth Low Energy smart technology which can stream live data from its sensors to any device it is paired with, triggering audio or visual events specified by the user. A button on the device itself adds further versatility, and the battery life, reassuringly for parents tired of malfunctioning electronic goods, lasts for over a year.
Toy and games manufacturers are fond of suggesting that their products potential to entertain is limited only by parent’s or children’s imaginations, but in Fizzly’s case the argument seems a strong one. Suggestions on the Company’s crowdfunding page range from using the trigger to set alarms that respond to actions, such as someone entering the room, swiping the device through the air to change songs playing on an IPhone or tablet, recording and comparing tricks performed on a skateboard, taking action shot selfies, parlour games, air guitar, even attaching to clothes or shoes and recording funky sounds to accompany dance steps or moves.
Fizzly has been developed in Italy by Siena based AIDILAB. The Company is attempting to break into a new, less tech savvy but larger and more fun oriented market, after successfully raising over $640k for their previous product UDOO, a mini PC which can run Android and Linux, intended for software developers and designers, not unlike the highly successful Raspberry Pi developed at Cambridge University in the UK.
Their campaign, which launched 2 weeks ago, has already raised over $25k with 43 more days to go. “Fizzly is aimed at the average Joe, maybe between 20-35, and probably with young children”, says Michelangelo Guarise, Head of Creative at AIDILAB. “It’s an end user product but you can certainly learn from it, in terms of technology and understanding simple coding concepts such as “if this then that”. Our mission is to be continuously interacting and innovating with the product. We are at the starting point but we have no idea where we might end up”.
Give children, or adults for that matter, a smartphone or tablet and you will have trouble getting them off the couch, whereas Fizzly is a far more outdoors oriented product that encourages gamification and friendly competition, with results and scores easily uploaded to social media and shared with friends, but there is much for budding developers to ponder too.
An open source API allows anyone to build projects in a development environment; AIDILAB have already provided a coding library and app store which they plan to expand rapidly with new ideas and uses. With so much discussion about whether learning to code should be added to the school curriculum, Fizzly could give its younger users a valuable head-start in respect of learning the concepts behind much of coding.
Fizzly are making early bird prototype versions of their product available in exchange for donations, for a price that is likely to be far cheaper for what they will eventually retail at. So far, 99 of the 100 single devices on offer have been taken, in exchange for a donation of $35 dollars or more, but there are still hundreds more to claim, for example pledging $69 or more gets you 2 Fizzly’s plus all of the apps currently developed by the team in Siena, a saving of $29 on the retail price. Pledge $173 or more and you’ll receive 4 Fizzly’s with key chains and mounts, and $350 gets you the same plus the full development kit a month earlier than anyone else.
The beauty of Fizzly is that movements are associated to an action or event, so when attached to a keychain, for example, if you are moving and your keys are not, an alarm will be triggered reminding you to go back and get your keys from wherever you have left them.
The team are developing new apps constantly, and having fun doing so. The Company are partnering with local universities as well as ones in Germany and the US, and the feedback has been positive; “one of our strengths is that Fizzly really does do most things you can think of”, says Michelangelo, whereas similar products in the market do maybe one or two things. We believe we have created the most innovative, not to mention best looking product out there. Well, they are Italian, after all!
Maurizio Caporali is the the serial entrepreneur and brains behind the project and he and Michelangelo were recently in London at the Tech Crunch Disrupt festival, showcasing the product. Antonio Rizzo is co-founder and Scientific Coordinator , and the man you can see presenting the video on the Crowdfunding page.
Fizzly is a refreshingly unpretentious and highly versatile piece of kit that is as complete a representation of what the Internet of Things means and what stage it is at as pretty much any product currently on the market. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, provide entertainment without incurring any costs, and be educational too. It’s a very decent bet to surprise family or friends with, just don’t tell them they’ll to wait until April to start playing with it.