Shifu marketing/content head Vartika Goel with Orboot and Plugo product in the Javits Center lobby during Toy Fair
India educational toy manufacturer Shifu, which combines physical and digital play, had a display booth last month at Toy Fair’s exhibition hall at the Javits Center, as well as a freestanding display in the middle of the lobby for everyone entering to see its Orboot and Plugo product.
Orboot demanded immediate attention, thanks to the huge inflatable display-only piece—but what it represented was pretty big, too, in play value. The real version is a smart 10-inch augmented reality (AR) tabletop globe without borders or names, but with a corresponding interactive app that displays information about cultures, monuments, inventions, animals, cuisines, maps and weather for various countries when scanned by compatible devices.
The Orboot (the name combines “orb” and the techno verb “boot”) also includes interactive games, activities, puzzles and quizzes. The “plug-and-play” Plugo, meanwhile, is an interactive AR gaming system for stimulating STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills via a gamepad for docking compatible smartphones or pads and five interchangeable kits, each with four games in the Plugo app.
Plugo’s Plugo Link construction kit uses magnetic hexagon building blocks. Plugo Count is a hands-on math kit with game pieces. Plugo Quest is an adventure game kit for boosting both reasoning ability and ambidexterity via a button-controlled joystick. Plugo Steer is a navigation play kit with a steering wheel for swimming through sharks or flying in space. Plugo Piano is a music learning kit using a 13-key piano with three modifiers.
Shifu launched in 2016 with Shifu Safari, the first release in Shifu’s AR flashcard series (others include Shifu Space and Shifu Travel). Kickstarter-funded Shifu Orboot came out in late 2017, followed by Shifu Minglings—AR-supported magnetic animal and monster figurines--last year. Shifu Plugo is the company’s latest creation.