Whenever Pankaj Agarwal saw his son Anant play alone with his toy blocks, a question often nagged him: “Why does he have to play alone? Is there something I can do to make play-at-home social and interactive for him?” He was also inspired to change the status quo when he looked at the many expensive toys gathering dust around his house. Agarwal thought of the millions of middle-class homes that just couldn’t afford all those high-tech toys with pricey tags.
So he added a simple and interactive, yet relatively inexpensive, tag of his own: TagPlus. The innovation comprises a button-type smart tag, a smart app (for phones/tablets), and, above all, content created and shared in the cloud by kids as young as 7-year-olds. A key benefit of TagPlus is that it can increase the repeat play value of toys. An important feature of the innovation, says Agarwal, is that there is no set-up required. “No device pairing, no logins, no passwords!” When kids buy toys that have this smart tag, they can start playing on the TagPlus platform immediately after unwrapping it. Kids can “click”, “long press”, “shake” and “bump” their smart tags and the smart app will respond accordingly. A “click” on the smart tag activates the TagPlus app on a nearby digital device to show toy-related content. A “long press” action will bring on a social media interface where kids can easily upload their creations and also see the creations of other kids playing with the same toy. “Think of this as a ‘mini Facebook for kids’,” says Agarwal. A “shake” action on the smart tag will help kids find and connect with children playing with an identical toy who could be anywhere in the world. Also, when kids “bump” two tags from two different toys, the connected app shows multiple ways in which the toys can be combined to create something entirely new. Agarwal and his other TagPlus team members at Samsung believe that this patent-pending technology platform has the potential to make kids’ playing experiences more serendipitous, socially engaging and creative “by seamlessly bridging their virtual and physical play environments”.
Agarwal and his colleagues did multiple pilot tests of TagPlus in South Korea and they are also in discussion with many toy makers to adopt the platform. “The response has been very positive,” he says.
Agarwal plans to continue his innovative work in the creative domain and believes that “members of our society should be educated and imbibe a culture of creativity”.