What do you do in the industry?
My team and I focus on converging the wearable market with augmented and virtual reality to create. The best example of wearables is the Fitbit and the Apple iWatch. Augmented and virtual reality allow for visual overlays or create entirely new worlds through our computers, visual media, and smart devices. We decided to combine the two. We use apparel, initially t-shirts, to share approved digital information to anyone with a smartphone and the app, and to initiate and create short and long form game play for all ages.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
The last two books I authored were “Winning the Trading Game” and “Trade Like a Pro” published by Wiley and Sons. For twenty (20) years my background has been in futures, options, and commodities trading. So I am an accidental visitor to this space. The co-founder of WarePlai, LLC, Paul Jesus Limon, started his career as one of the first thirty (30) employees at Blizzard and has been involved in computer game development, in some form or fashion his entire life.
After twenty-three (23) years of us being friends he invited me to see something I had never seen before; he pointed his phone at a beverage can and immediately I saw a digital skate park showed up on the screen of his iPad. He arranged a few of the cans in different configurations and various other skate parks of different sizes popped up on the screen. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen, but I did not know how to make it practical or useful. I went home and began to mull over it. In the meantime my three (3) year old kept imploring my wife to wash his same “Lightning McQueen” t-shirt, so he could wear it the next day. This went on for three days in a row and hit me.
I called Paul and said to him “Imagine two kids see each other on the playground, they have their tablets or their smart phones with them, they point at each other’s shirt and the characters from each shirt jump off the shirt and battle each other on a virtual game board in space between the two players. He said to his knowledge he had never seen anything like that in the augmented reality industry and that this was like Skylanders or Disney Infiniti without the need for action figure. That was almost three years ago and since then we have moved from provisional patent phase into patent pending phase and look forward to debuting several of our games at “ChiTAG”, in addition to the first game on our AR system on kickstarter in May.
What are you working on now?
The first game to deploy, in what we call the “smart clothing experience”, is a story rich game we have developed that was inspired by the 1920’s sci-fi/horror writer H.P. Lovecraft called “Reign of Cthulhu”. We have three factions, with nine (9) avatars ( three (3) for each faction), that travel around the world to collect artifacts that bleed into our world from Cthulhu’s lost underwater city R’lyeh. To play the game is free, anyone will be able to download the app and join the game. The t-shirts that you can buy for each faction along with avatars open up new abilities, give you access to new realms, and builds on a players already fun experience.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
The trend for gaming and entertainment in general is reaching it’s own singularity. Three historical activities are happening at once. The online strength of Amazon has had a significant impact in the way that toys are being distributed and experienced by customers. Big box retailers, such as Target and Walmart, are adding to the pure commoditization of the toy industry as well, all of which are hastening the decline of the specialty toy retailer, i.e. the bankruptcy of Toys R’ Us. At the same time as these two activities are happening mobile gaming applications have exploded and the growth of AR and VR are built into that future growth. The potential impact that we have in merging an AR mobile experience with a physical tangible item makes us feel like we are on the cutting edge of the next wave of digital toys.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Our patent pending AR gaming system is fully licensable. We want anything presented to us to be first and foremost to be original and fun. This is a passion project for my team and I and we want to see the same thing in those that wish to team up with.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
As a father of both a son graduating college and a son graduating high school my advice is always the same, trust in yourself and your instinct. It is always easy to put aside what makes sense to you because of the “I don’t haves…”, “I don’t have…enough money, experience, know how, reach etc.” . This can defer dreams for years because it’s assumed you will magically know everything you need to know at some far off date. I am still learning and I am aware of the “I don’t haves…” in my life, yet my focus is on what “I do have.” and leveraging that to follow my instincts.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?