When I first read about LG’s new ‘Aka’ phone range in TechCrunch, I couldn’t help but feel a little warm glow in my belly. Growing up with the classic memorable and interactive toys such as Tamagotchis and Furbies, I’ve always had a soft spot for technology that holds a mind of its own.
But now with the Aka phones, we’re moving away from the typical ‘nurturing’ model of these toys and onto something slightly more independent. Incidentally, this may be music to some mother’s ears. I know my own mum was tormented by the muffled yelps of a Furby that had been shut away in the wardrobe after hours of endless requests (in “Furbish”) to play with me.
The Aka’s are instead promising to provide an “emotional connection” between people and their phones with the help of four different personality character sleeves. YoYo (the pink one), Soul (black), Wooky (white) and Eggy (yellow) are brought to life by a clever microchip hidden in each coloured phone cover.
The characters have several ways of interacting with you; including gatecrashing your selfies or “pulling faces”, and each personality will influence the colours and style of the phone’s interface. And if you fancy switching between characters, you can simply buy a new sleeve cover to change the meme. Users can also gain rewards for their Aka by buying more accessories or connecting with their ‘real-world’ friends that also have the same phone.
It could be argued that this clear incorporation of gamification can be a risky approach to take, especially when it’s often a buzzword that’s thrown around the tech industry. As a result, some people still question – do fully-grown adults really love integrating gaming into their everyday experiences?
Plenty of our clients are involved in gamification and can vouch that they most certainly do. Those with a competitive streak (I’ve been known as Monica from Friends when playing board games) will get sucked in to the idea that they can beat and overcome the game, their friends and even their colleagues. The thrill of winning is something so intrinsically built into us; it’s no surprise that technology has so easily (and in most cases successfully) adopted it within the latest devices and applications.
I probably won’t be buying an Aka just yet, as the loyalty for my pink iPhone 5C remains strong. But I most certainly respect the decision to bring something so unusual, yet strangely sentimental, to the phone market. And I can honestly say that I hope we will be seeing lots of Eggy’s and Wooky’s in the very near future!