Let’s Get Phygital: Introducing Magik Play Starter Kit

Portugal (July 11, 2017) – Have you heard the newest term in kids’ play? It’s called phygital. Already popular in chic retail circles (think Warby Parker or Kate Spade) the toy world is adapting to playthings that blend the digital world with physical pieces. Imagine wooden blocks that “talk” to an iPad screen as a child builds a tower that interacts with whimsical illustrations. Cool, huh?

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Thanks to augmented reality, a brand-new type of edutainment is here for tots as young as two. For parents and kids, it’s pure magic, but spelled with a k. Say hello to Magikbee, makers of engaging, physical and digital learning experiences for kids.

From a Portuguese startup comes Magik Play Starter Kit ($57.99), now available stateside on Amazon and Magikbee.com. With an iPad propped up on a wooden holder, preschoolers assemble their 10 chunky wooden blocks as they solve puzzles pictured on their iPad screen. Three different games allow kids to explore puzzles adapted for ages from 2 to 6 years old.

Magik Play Starter Kit • $57.99 • Ages 2+

At age two, tots explore Hidden Shapes, learning about colors, shapes and trial and error. Three-year-olds test their skills with Dino Blocks. At four, they are ready for the challenges of Runaway. In one adventure, kids are asked to help a dino cross the sea by building a boat with their blocks. By following the outlined figures on the screen, kids quickly learn to mimic the building instructions so dino can sail away. Once completed, kids earn a well done! message flashed across the screen.

In each educational game, solutions are met by assembling the physical wooden blocks. Playing in tandem with the iPad enhances youngsters’ motor skills, spatial reasoning, creativity and collaboration. All of the STEM topics are covered as kids learn through play by building, thus conquering obstacles shown on the iPad screen. One character needs to get to a balloon high in the sky. A tower must be built and quickly. Another character can’t move forward because of a downed tree. Kids come to the rescue by building a ramp to climb up and around, virtually, thanks to the ramp that is built by hand, physically!

It may seem like a high tech toy but there are no plastic materials or electronic components. Magik Play is environmental friendly with wood blocks colored with non-toxic paints. Each starter kit includes 10 Smart Blocks, a wooden iPad stand and 3 digital games.

A Little “i” History
Apple just celebrated 10 years since the iPhone was launched and it’s only been 7 years (!) since the iPad went on sale in April 2010. The iPad 2 came along in 2011 and the next year a fourth generation of iPad was launched.

Over in Portugal, in 2013, a group of computer scientists won a global award for “a tangible interface for storytelling that targets pre-school children and offers a playful experimental space where children can create their own narratives by placing tangible picture-blocks on an electronic board.” The prototype was meant to “motivate and engage children, both in creating narratives, as well as in experimenting different solutions to solve conflicts created during the story plot.”

Hugo Ribeiro, co-founder and CEO of parent company Magikbee, joined forces with one of the researchers. Why? He had become a dad for the second time and noticed a huge jump in technology in the few years between his first and second daughters.

“I had my second daughter in 2013 and I saw that her relationship with technology was a lot different than when my first daughter was born in 2007. My youngest daughter started using the iPad and all the other toys were set aside. The content on the iPad was more fun and richer.”

“I started noticing that I was not alone. We started thinking it could be amazing if regular and traditional toys could somehow interact with tablets to create a kind of seamless experience between reality (physical) and digital. My partner, who was a university researcher in interactive technology for kids, and I started building the first concept and then the prototype. The feedback was amazing. That’s when we decided to take this further and created Magikbee.”

Magical Moments with a K
The handful of American parents who have tried Magik Play agree wholeheartedly.

“This is so unique — really engaging and was challenging (in a fun way) for both my 6-year-old and me!” offered one mom on Amazon. “Even her dad gets in on the fun. Truly educational without feeling like “work” — and the apps are super cute!!!”

From Texas, another parent wrote, “Magik Play has made a drastic improvement on his fine motor skills and being able to turn blocks to fit, he has begun to really understand spatial reasoning. Also it has helped start noticing shapes and things in his environment which has improved his ability to take in his own surroundings!”

Thanks to its playful learning, kids will not only improve their fine motor skills but also build their confidence along the way. The starter kit works with all iPads including iPad mini (except the iPad 1 and the 12.9 inch Pad Pro)

Magik Play Starter Kit • $57.99 • Ages 2+
Just in from Europe, Magik Play is the world’s first iPad smart toy that merges traditional wooden toys with educational games, creating a more engaging, physical and truly fun experience for preschoolers. Each kit includes 10 “smart” blocks, a wooden iPad stand and 3 games, adapted to different ages that explore educational challenges. In each game, kids are asked to find solutions by assembling the physical wooden blocks. This iPad toy enhances tots motor skills, spatial reasoning, creativity and collaboration. Best of all it can be played solo or with siblings and parents.

When playing these games, children and parents needn’t worry about batteries, wires or pairing. Products are carefully designed and crafted in Portugal (UE), meet all the safety requirements and are environmentally conscious.

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Headquartered in Portugal, Magikbee is a member of the Portuguese Startup Braga Innovation Hub (Microsoft Ventures partner) and has the ambition to become an important player in the interactive phygital toys/games market. It’s proprietary patented technology enables a series of smart toys that introduces a special type of augmented reality where the physical toys interact with the iPad near the screen, creating a seamless experience between the physical and the digital play. This team of parents and university researchers are pros with interactive technology for education. Their numerous awards include honors at the global Advances in Computer Entertainment Conference (ACE) and top prize at the World Technology Awards in the Entertainment category. In 2016 they were one of the finalists of the Silicon Valley World Tech Cup Challenge, in the AR/VR category.

Written by Matt

Dad blogger at OurFamilyReviews.com ~ communications consultant, WordPress.com collaborator and PR pro ~ recovering hop grower and contributor to numerous local guides ~ husband and dad of 4, living in southwest Wisconsin. I love having fun with my family, writing, traveling, shopping, consulting and sharing my honest opinions. See me in action on Discover Wisconsin (at 00:04:00). I am PR friendly, contact me at matt.w.sweeny@gmail.com or our.fam.reviews@gmail.com