However, the Pokémon Go craze had put location-based games on the map,
which helped manufacturers and parents understand the concept. But, unlike the
solitary nature of Pokémon Go, Biba encourages co-play with parents and group
play with friends.
“Other kids will start to flock over when they see the games being played, because
they just know that smartphones are fun,” Toner says. “So, we made it very easy to
add another kid in mid-stride and share it with one, two, three, or four friends.”
Biba’s team showed playground manufacturers how apps can get children
re-engaged with their local playground. Parents and caregivers love the fact that
they can play with their children instead of fighting over screen time. And, for
the first time, participating municipalities can access data-driven insights about
activity trends in their community.
MAKING A BIG PLAY
The vision is big, but Toner is enthusiastic. He says that being ready to “shake
things up” internally and externally has been a key to the company’s success.
Next, the lean team of 25 employees is looking at creating networking events
where kids all over the world can compete in Biba-powered, Olympic-style games.
Such creative ideas come easily in a city like Vancouver, which is notoriously
health-minded, family-oriented, and tech-friendly.
“Inside our studio, we try to be an orchestra of bass players. We don’t want any
rock stars, no guitar solos, no divas. We want the company to be more like a
conversation: equal, open, improvisational.” he says. “The fact that a small startup
like ours is able to have this sort of an impact on longstanding, multinational
companies is a testament to the power of our approach and our ideas. Thankfully,
we have had the staying power to bring those ideas to life.”
Biba wants you to spend more
time with your smartphone—
this time at your neighborhood
playground. The company
merges digital and real-world fun in a
way that modernizes playground struc-
tures that haven’t changed much in the
past 100 years.
Matt Toner, Biba’s CEO, read the
research showing that children were
sacrificing outdoor play time for screen
time, but he also knew from personal
experience just how difficult it can be
to enforce a parental ban on touchscreen
devices. He and his team devised an
elegant way to harness that fixation
into a healthy channel.
Today, more than 3,600 Biba-powered
playgrounds can be found in virtually
every area of the world from northern
Canada to the Middle East to the South
Pacific. These playgrounds have easy-to-install, scannable markers that
don’t require electricity or Wi-Fi. Once
families download any Biba game,
they are ready to play. Scanning the
Biba tags as part of the playground fun
enhances the games with augmented
reality moments and new creative challenges. Caregivers are an integral part
of the fun, directing children through
tasks and adventures while cheering
them on. The clever concept landed
Biba the No. 9 spot in Fast Company’s
Most Innovative Companies category.
RISING TO THE CHALLENGES
But, even before the idea got off the
ground, the Vancouver-based company
had to overcome some resistance. Biba
challenged how playground manufacturers thought about video games. The
new concept also changed how families
interact on and with the playground. And
convincing parents that the key to getting
their kids to play more was to download
yet another app was initially a tough sell.
Playgrounds Get Better with Biba
THIS VANCOUVER COMPANY IS USING SCREENS TO GE T CHILDREN
OFF THE COUCH AND BACK ONTO THE PLAYGROUND.
CREATED BY FASTCO WORKS CONTENT STUDIO AND COMMISSIONED BY
CEO Matt Toner
parents to use
screens to get
r s Get a