Yibu is an iPad game that forces young players to look away from their screen in order to solve puzzles using five wooden sensors.
There is no way to know yet how the widespread use of iPads and other screens is going to affect the current generation of children as they grow up, but we have seen a number of projects and toys that aim to encourage off-screen play. The most promising of these, such the a looping outdoor gaming system and a wildlife camera kit often combine familiar technology with physical and outdoor tasks to give kids the best of both worlds.
Another such toy is Yibu from FrogLabs Shanghai, a working concept that forces young players to look away from their screen in order to solve puzzles using five wooden sensors. When the player launches the game on their iPad, they will first be greeted by a polar bear in need of help. But the child cannot help the bear by tapping the screen, so instead they begin to experiment with the accompanying wooden toys. Each block contains a different sensor that monitors light, sound, direction, temperature and wind. They are designed to encourage certain actions — for example, the temperature sensor can be ‘warmed up’ by the player’s hands, or rolled to suggest creating friction for a fire.
The child is not told exactly what to do, and must experiment instead, often moving around their house to find solutions. Plus, the situations onscreen are programmed to mirror the child’s own environment, so if it is raining in the real world, it might rain in the game too.
How else could physical objects be incorporated into digital play?