Sometimes tech is just plain fun. Sure, most of the time you expect tech to be useful – to teach you, organize you, or make your life more efficient. But it’s important not to neglect the fact that tech can be amazingly fun.
Zappar is a company whose mission is to make tech fun. If Zappar doesn’t put a smile on your face, well then I’m sorry because you must be having a really bad day. Zappar adds a new dimension to your world to make it silly, goofy and entertaining.
Zappar takes things that you see every day, such as t-shirts, hats, magazines, and movie posters, and uses augmented reality to make them much more interesting. But Zappar’s augmented reality is more than a 3D image, Zappar brings a new dimension to augmented reality. With Zappar, you can manipulate an image to play games, musical instruments and, well, just have fun.
I recently spoke with Caspar Thykier, Founder and Managing Director of Zappar, who told me, “We’re in the business of reinvention, sprinkling magic dust on existing product categories with a digital angle to it. Our mission is to create bite-sized entertainment using augmented reality.”
Thykier explained that augmented reality has been around since the 1960′s but has existed mostly in laboratories and universities. “It’s always been tech for tech’s sake. No one has really thought about it in terms of what everyday consumers would use it for.”
Zappar decided to bring augmented reality to products to use it for fun and joy. The company designed the technology to be easy and intuitive to use. “We don’t want people to think about the technology, we want them to enjoy the experience.”
Zappar entered into licenses to bring the technology to brands such as Major League Baseball, Harry Potter, Batman, Wired magazine, Marvel and Disney. Zappar apparel ranges from cool designs to branded ones, and the technology has expanded to greeting cards in the UK and MLB Fan Cave in the US.
To use Zappar, download the free Zappar app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch from the iTunes App Store or for your Android device from Google Play. Next point your device at a Zap, find the Zap on the app, and press the Zap button. The Zap will come alive and you can start to play.
Here’s a video showing how it works:
What makes Zappar unique is that you can control what the augmented reality does from the app. For example, a Zappar t-shirt with a drum set lets you play the drums from your device when you Zap it. Some Zaps are games that let you play as you’re Zapping someone’s shirt. You never know what you’re going to get when you Zap someone. “It just makes you laugh. There’s something about it that’s so unexpected, it’s just fun,” said Thykier.
You can try out a Zap at Zappar’s website to see how its website is transformed into an animated experience.
Later this year, you’ll also able to take pictures and video from within the app to share using social media and text messages. Zappar also plans to have a place on its website where people can share images and videos of their Zaps.
Zappar recently announced that it will be expanding its line of apparel in November when it launches its Zaphats, just in time for the holiday season. While Zaphats look like normal, everyday hats, people with the Zappar app will be able to change that reality to animate and interact with the hats.
Check out this video showing how Zaphats come to life:
My favorite hat in the video is the one that transforms into a TV where the viewer can actually change the channels. When I asked Thykier what would be shown on the TV, he advised me that I would have to “stay tuned” to find out. In the future, Thykier would like to see people being able to personalize their Zaphats, such as setting their own channels on the TV hat, perhaps connecting it to their favorite YouTube channels.
You can sign up here to be notified of the Zaphat launch.
Zappar apparel (a/k/a Zapparel) is currently available in the US in Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, JC Penney and other retailers. In the UK, look for Zapparel and greeting cards in Tesco and Asda. Zappar also sells products in Canada, Mexico and South Africa. You can search for Zappar apparel on its website.
Do you like tech that’s just plain fun? Would you like to see a Zap in action? Do you like the idea of interactive augmented reality? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below!