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Interactive play

The time in which we were only able to use traditional equipment on a playground is a thing of the past. Modern technology allows for a broad spectrum of new and exciting possibilities. But what is interactive play exactly and do we even need it?

Why interactive play?

At Yalp, we see interactive play as the interface between the digital and the real world. ‘Gaming in the physical world’. The gaming world offers imagination, learning, fun, variety, the excitement of reaching the next level and the possibility to adapt levels to an individual player. The physical world brings physical activity, social interaction, community involvement and the rewarding feeling of being outdoors. Combining both really brings our development to the next level. We consider interactive play the ‘best of both worlds’.

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Interactive playground for the new generation

Interactive play is a lot of fun, not only for the ‘new generation’, but also for adults. Rapid developments in technology continuously create new opportunities. Back in 2007 when we first started interactive play with our Dance Arch Sona, we could tailor games to trends like Idols and Dance Revolution. Because we are able to develop new games or audio samples and update them to all of our existing locations, we can go along with important yearly events or societal themes. Currently, we for example customize our Memo activity set games to include a broad variety of STEAM games of history quizzes. We educate users on cultural integration, healthy nutrition or play a ‘scary’ Moon monster game on the Sona around Halloween. We can even fully customize a game set to specific demographics or ages, like we did for the Sona when developing a game set specifically for the more mature adults. As a result, our dance arch Sona is being used in several retirement homes and senior living communities.

Besides being able to adapt our play opportunities, we are also monitoring user statistics. We know for a fact athat our interactives are being used extensively. Over the last decade, this has proven to be tremendously important. Not only to show a social return on investment but also to further develop our products. We are able to see what works and what doesn’t. Not only in terms of type of games or features, but also in case of maintenance problems. We can reboot the system or calibrate the sensors or camera’s remotely, without having to fly installers all over the world. Naturally, physical parts have to replaced from time to time, but our experience over the last decade has learned that the maintenance on our interactive play products is much less compared to our traditional equipment. Both because we carefully select our components based on durability, but also because we hardly have any moving parts and therefore less wear and tear.

What is interactive play?

Everyone thinks it is relatively new, but our first interactive products were developed in 2006, so we have over a decade of experience. Nevertheless, it is a fairly new concept to many countries across the globe. As the front leader on interactive play in the industry, we think interactive play is much more than simple electronic play and being able to generate a sound or light. Of course children can be stimulated when they suddenly hear a bird chirping after stepping onto a platform or by chasing light patterns that appear on tiles, but typically it won’t make children loose sense of time. To us interactive play is so much more than that. It is not a basic reaction to a certain activity. A two-way information flow is critical to interactive play. Being able to experience the excitement of reaching higher levels, to exceed your limits, to continuously get new game updates, to customize content, to look at user statistics and to do maintenance and settings remotely.

We are even taking it to a next level. After setting a score on our interactive ball wall Sutu, users can choose to use our free Yalp Sutu app. Please mind, this is just an extra play feature, the app doesn’t have to be used. But it allows players to claim their score, enter the worldwide Sutu competition, set up their own competitions, earn all kinds of badges, invite their friends and share their score on social media. And that is not all. If you allow the app, it will even send you push messages. So imagine sitting on your couch at home watching TV after you have claimed sixty two miles per hour with the Speed Sutu game and suddenly receiving a message. ‘Your best friend has just beaten your high score’. Interactive play probably won’t result in people no longer watching TV, but does a message like that make you want to go back to the park again? We hope interactive play can contribute into making your playground into a destination playground.

Benefits of interactive play:

  • It stimulates social interaction
  • Encourages kids to explore
  • Good for skill development
  • Encourages kids to be creative 
  • It is always fun

Where would you incorporate interactive play?

Interactive play can truly complement traditional play. Adding a high tech eye-catcher with interactive play capabilities can really enrich your existing traditional playground. Our interactives are often used to renovate older sites. However, have you ever thought about creating something completely unique by designing a complete interactive playground with multiple interactives? A true playground of the future (even though the future is now). Maybe even more interestingly, interactives can be used in places you would not typically expect a playground. Because of the fact they are all ground level and have a relatively small use space, they can also be put in more informal spaces or small urban lots. A Sona dance arch requires a smaller footprint than a regular swing. They don’t have to be in a park or on a schoolyard, we have great examples of installations in front of city halls, retail areas or roof tops.

We know that interactive play can be placed everywhere, provides opportunities for interdisciplinary, collaborative and hands-on learning, stays fun and truly activates all. Where will your next interactive playground be? If you can’t decide on the best spot, please reach out and we’ll be happy to share our knowledge!

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References

"The Sona Play Arch is well accepted. It requires no supervision or game manual. The children love to listen to the Viking's voice, because he explains which game they are going to play."

The United States

“The YALP Memo is a fantastic addition to any playground and brings a new, fresh, and innovative dimension to outdoor playtime."

Woodforest, Wallaroo Park
Texas USA

“The Sona Arch in Woodforest has turned out to be one of our most popular parks. We have a large group of home schooled children and I have heard this is one of their weekly lessons for young grade school children. It is a popular evening spot after school and filled on the weekends with all age children. The community loves it and they think it is really neat to have something so high tech for the kids to play on.”

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