Stephen Gould creates the play pieces and packaging for Osmo, an innovative gaming company that blends screen-based gaming and hands-on play to create active learning experiences for children.
Osmo was founded in 2013 by former Google employees Pramod Sharma and Jérôme Scholler. The two friends wanted to create an educational gaming system for kids that didn’t require intense focus on an iPad screen. Osmo creates an interactive play experience by placing a mirror over a tablet’s camera and detecting the movement of game pieces via their proprietary Reflective Artificial Intelligence.
Osmo games cover a range of subjects, from math and spelling, to physics and coding. For example, in Osmo’s Pizza Co. game, players learn to make quick calculations using topping and money tiles while delivering delicious pizzas and correct change to customers. All Osmo games promote social-emotional skills like problem-solving, perseverance, and creative thinking.
Stephen Gould’s Sacramento office has been a key partner for Osmo since day one. They produce the physical components and packaging, making sure everything matches the spirit of fun, colorful digital games. While each game poses its own specific design challenges, the common denominator is that every piece needs to be safe and intuitive to use for kids of all backgrounds around the world.
The Sacramento team directs the design and manufacturing process for Osmo’s essential components: a base that cradles the iPad or Fire device, a mirror piece that reflects the camera to the play surface, and play pieces for its growing line of games. They also produce the packaging structure for each new game and and handle distribution through their partner facilities in China.
All of these items are created in close collaboration with Osmo’s design team. As they build the digital architecture for a new game, Osmo relies on the Sacramento team to create physical game pieces that will support the gameplay interactions. The success of the game hinges on the play pieces being made to an exact set of specifications that allows the camera to correctly identify them. Small discrepancies in shape and color will make the game unplayable.
Our team spends months exploring materials, testing concepts, and working to achieve a viable cost structure for production. Concepts are designed specifically to eliminate any potential choking and other safety hazards. Prototypes for each piece are developed and put through ballistics testing at Stephen Gould’s Fremont office. Every piece is also sent to an independent lab where they are tested for chemical exposure and evaluated against the stringent safety requirements the product must meet in the EU, China, and US markets.
Meeting all these requirements can be a challenge. Osmo components are made from a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, metal and silicon. There are also instruction booklets made of laminated papers that may contain precious metals in the glues that hold them together. Every product has different set of material characteristics that need to be fine-tuned to simultaneously meet the myriad of international standards.
Once prototypes are designed to regulatory standards, the Osmo team organizes testing with children to ensure they are safe and easy to use. If certain pieces are confusing or unreasonably frustrating for kids, the Sacramento team will refine the design to remove those barriers.
Testing is the last hurdle to clear before production can begin. Components are manufactured, kitted, and fulfilled by partner facilities in China. The Sacramento team works with Osmo’s carrier to handle all shipments and ensure customs clearance. From initial design to final delivery, the Sacramento team oversees a rigorous and dynamic production process in which quality and safety are paramount.
Osmo has achieved incredible success. It’s now sold in over 42 countries and more than 30,000 schools have incorporated Osmo into the classroom. Osmo made Time Magazine’s list of Best Inventions and has won numerous awards from educators and toy industry organizations. In 2019, Osmo was acquired by BYJU’s, India’s largest edtech company, for $120 million.
Osmo’s greatest impact is the way it has made learning engaging and fun for countless children, particularly those struggling with traditional schooling and teaching. The Sacramento team is proud of the integral role they play in bringing Osmo into the homes of families around the world.
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