Start-up is betting against touch interfaces

Mind Pirate set to expand wearable computing

Eye phones will replace iPhones in the coming years, claims the founder of Menlo Park startup Mind Pirate.

The company was founded last year with a mission to explore new horizons in wearable gaming though the use of non-touch features on conventional smartphones as well as the new entrants like Google Glass.

Since that time Mind Pirate has scored $2.5 million in seed funding and acquired Twyngo – the studio behind hit iOS title Amazing Ants.

Company found Shawn Hardin was formerly the entrepreneur-in-residence at Bessemer Venture Partner, which is now funding his new venture.

Hardin has been fond of repeating the phrase ”Within the next five years, eyephones will replace iPhones" in dealings with the press, first in an interview with GamesIndustry International and now with Gamasutra, but he doesn’t think the current generation of tech has been fully explored.

“The way we think about it is that we’re not an ‘augmented reality game company,’ we’re a company focused on a couple of theses: One of them being the under-utilization of the current state of smartphones and tablets,” he told Gamasutra.

“As we develop technology and expertise in that space, we see it scaling into a myriad of new form factors where touch is increasingly less dominant.”

While smartphone games have so far focused on touch-screen interaction, the handsets themselves have many more capabilities, such as accelerometers, GPSes, gyroscopes, compasses, image sensors, proximity sensors, and more.

A few games have used these features – mostly for ARGs – but Hardin says that’s just the beginning of the possibilities.

"There are lots of key learnings from that first chapter, and one of them is that there are ways to take advantage of the fact that the device understands its location and knows your routines, your work, your home," Hardin explained.

“There can be value in dynamics that don’t disrupt, but complement what you’re already doing."

Mind Pirate is working on its own platform, the Callisto Engine, to help developers open these doors.

"It’s designed to make as easy as possible the transition of game design from a touch-centric experience to one that embraces the unique dynamics of wearable tech, and the sensing capabilities of modern mobile design,"said Hardin.

If the company is to be successful in convincing developers to move to a relatively untested interface, it’s going to have to prove that customers will be willing to follow.

"It’s challenging enough in the increasingly crowded and competitive mobile space to create awareness and discovery, so to then add onto that a requirement that people have to change where they are in the world to play your game, that’s a high bar," Hardin said.

"The value hasn’t been there to date."

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