An intriguing smart-toy dubbed Moff officially launched here in Japan last week, getting attention from several media outlets leading up to its release. It’s a wearable wristband device that lets kids play using physical motion to create sound effects for any object they might be holding. You can get a better idea for how that works in the video below.
Moff is developed by a team organized at a local hackathon event in Osaka. The team participated in last year’s SF Japan Night where they pitched their product. At that time, Moff was a toy that attached to other toys, but after making improvements, they turned it into a wearable device.
Moff CEO Akinori Takahagi came up with the idea when he was examining the way kids play with toys:
Kids get bored with new toys so quickly. And parents just repeat buying and throwing toys away. It’s a waste of money. To solve this issue, I came up with the idea for a device that lets kids play in many ways depending on their imagination.
The Moff wristband connects to a smartphone or a tablet device through BLE. When Moff turns on, the app on the connected device generates sounds corresponding to the motion of your hand. It could be sound effects, voices, or background music. So for example, it could be the sound of a guitar, a ray gun, or even a even a Star Wars lightsaber.
Moff uses a three-axis accelerometer and gyroscope. These sensors recognize your physical motion and generate sound accordingly. Data is accumulated in the cloud, and the team hopes to utilize this data to improve the device’s precision and complex motion. They are also considering offering a SDK and making a developer´s platform.
The device is covered with silicon and its battery is said to last for about 40 to 50 hours, and can be replaced by the user if it wears out. The wrist band can be adjusted for various sizes.
Takahagi explained about the pricing:
We are thinking to make it around 3000 to 4000 yen (or about $30 to $40). Regarding production, we decided to outsource to a factory that develops BLE equipment in-house. Normal factories purchase BLE equipment and use it to create products, which increases their costs. But we can reduce costs by working with factories that make BLE equipment on their own. We aim to minimize the cost and charge for content like extra sounds within the app.
Moff plans to show their product at events in March and April, such as at Mobile World Congress and SXSW. The company plans to fundraise for development in March through crowdfunding. Their first production lot is scheduled to be available in July or August of this year.