Monday, March 15, 1999

SXSW Human Code Can Interact Cooly

For a quick lunch break I enjoyed the sunny weather and walked over to the authentic Tex-Mex diner near the Convention center with the Chickclick chicks (Heidi Swanson, Heather Irwin, Caroline Frye and Beatrice Springborn), Joey Anuff, Heather Gold and Owen Thomas. I left them to their burritos and swung by Human Code for the tail end of their lunchtime press conference. This interactive applications development firm has expertise in business, education and entertainment and has created several significant products. On Monday they announced their acquisition of San Rafael, CA Presage Software Development and that they completed their second round of VC financing for $5 million. Dr. David Palumbo, VP learning technologies demoed their K-Prep (Kindergarten Preparation) product for Ignite! This product merges tactile and interactive technology with an engaging curriculum, targeted for children ages 3-5. This smart board technology allows you to use the board as a mouse and trace a letter with your finger. When two people draw together their markings get averaged out and mirrored on the mouse/board/screen. Wanna get more interactive? Hurl a beanie baby at the moving bullseye target. Smart toys are becoming more popular learning toys when something little Debbie learns at school can come home with her and continue its educational value. This product and technology was quite advanced and yet was only out of the laboratory three weeks.

Lindsey Gupton, VP of development then took us upstairs where we saw Ellie's Enchanted Garden, being developed for Zowie International. Heather Anne Halpert, who slightly resembled Ellie with pigtails, dark jeans and white oxford, demoed how the user can interact with the software through using actual game pieces. Heather placed the character Ellie up and down on the game board repeatedly and in the computer, on the software, she jumped-rope. Imitating watering a tree produced apples in the software version, which in a kids testing session produced peals of glee from all the girls, and moving a telescope over the board revealed what was underground in the virtual world. Jennifer Christensen and Jayson Franklin also worked on this game and I'd say have a lot to be proud of. It really is neat! and will retail for $50-60.