February 11, 2009

A playground becomes a video game

PlaygroundI came across this article today - it tells about KOMPAN's new Icon™ playground system, which basically combines the concept of a video game with a super-cool-looking climbing system. Various electronic games are designed to get kids running, climbing, and competing...basically tricking them into exercising by including an electronic component and, more importantly in my eyes, a goal associated with the playground equipment.

It's pretty high-tech, according to the article:

"The system includes three components:
  • A computer server vault that runs the games. It also features a cellular modem, which allows the playground owner to control and run diagnostic checks by computer from anywhere in the world.
  • A game controller station where kids stand on a patented rubber surf board to toggle between games and game options on an LED screen.
  • A series of LED-lighted and sound-equipped nodes – each the size of a half grapefruit – with a center button for players to push. The nodes mount in 16 points throughout the steel playground.
"In the Grover vs. Kunkel match-up, they played “Capture.” Half the nodes glowed blue for Grover. The other half glowed red for Kunkel. They had 60 seconds to sprint and climb to toggle the most lights to their color while the other tried to toggle them back."

It basically sounds like a clever combination of the Evos™ and NEOS™ play systems that were introduced in the past couple of years.

But as I look at these technological innovations in playground equipment, I have to wonder - will they work? Will they actually intrigue a generation that, for various reasons, tends to spend more time in front of a screen? Will such systems be short-lived novelties or will they stand the test of time and compete with the pace with which other toys and gadgets are evolving?

What do you think?

the buzz in play, kompan