Dubai's Pixelbug launches highly anticipated edutainment app Colorbug

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The coloring is taken to a whole other level. 

Are you a child between 4 and 10? Do you want to meet Patrick the Horse, Pablo the Penguin, Ricky the Rabbit, or Bugsy? Soon you’ll only have to download the Colorbug app to enjoy a coloring adventure with all of these characters.

In a few days, Pixelbug will launch Colorbug in both English and Arabic, first on Apple’s iTunes and later on Google’s Play Store. Dany Eid, cofounder and managing partner, explained that Colorbug is an edutainment app that relies on augmented reality to magically bring storytelling and coloring books to life.

Pixelbug, since its inception in 2012, has relied on delivering projects for a wide customer base, including multinationals such as Nestlé, Sony, Lego, and Procter & Gamble. However, the team has always wanted to design its own products. Based on what they’ve learned from their corporate projects, they now feel confident enough to strike out on their own.

High precision augmented reality

The three cofounders, Elie Youssef, Dany Eid, and Denis Krueger, agree that the augmented reality technology is what distinguishes this new application. “We developed Pattern Recognition Technology very quickly,” Denis says, and Elie emphasizes that the app was developed from A to Z by Pixelbug’s in-house team, which numbers around a dozen.

But testing the app is of course much better than just hearing about it! During our meeting, Wamda got to do just that. The game starts with choosing a stencil. Then you start to color. As soon as you’re done, the tablet’s camera captures the drawing, which immediately comes to life. The drawing and colors you picked appear on the tablet’s screen with music, and Bugsy, the main character, starts telling you the story of the drawing. If you choose to color Pablo the Penguin, for instance, Bugsy will tell you all about his life as well as other facts about his world. Denis explained that the “augmented reality speed and high precision technology allow the tablet to recognize the drawing or the hand even when it’s moving.”

So far, the team has developed eight stencils – characters – and is preparing to launch five more.

Sponsored stencils

As for the topics of these stencils, Dany explained that some are more educational, while others tend to focus more on entertainment. “We also have stencils that we call sponsored stencils, within the framework of Pixelbug’s B2B services,” he says. “We collaborate with various companies and brands for which we develop stencils addressed to a specific target audience.  The copyrights of these stencils are owned by those companies; however, they can only be accessed through our platform. We did that for instance for the launch of the Mushrif Central Park in Abu Dhabi and everybody enjoyed the app, including adults.”

While sponsored ads are one of the revenue sources of Colorbug, the latter will launch in-app stencil purchases. Elie explained that some of the stencils will be available for free, while others, such as renowned architectural structures, including the Eiffel Tower or the Burj Khalifa or even stencils on astronomy and biology, will be paid.

In order to attract users, the team is launching a wide campaign by participating in many events such as the last Comicon convention, where it launched, in partnership with the Super Hope association, a fundraising and awareness campaign on cancer. The startup also took part in the Innovator Day in Abu Dhabi and other events. The team also targets schools by participating in the Maker Day organized in Dubai by GEMS schools.

Pixelbug acknowledged at regional events

The startup’s work was acknowledged during the SME Awards in 2013. The team also won first place in the UAE category in the Get in the Ring competition in 2014. Colorbug also reached the semifinals at the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition this year. Elie said that this type of event introduces the audience to the startup’s work, and allows them to learn from the workshops and other participants.

Challenges faced

Pixelbug has faced its fair share of challenges, especially at a technical level. “When the idea was born, we were wondering whether we could implement it. We first designed a very funny and silly character, then the pieces of the puzzle started coming together and we started re-developing the app from scratch, without overlooking the fact that content was a big challenge for us since we wanted it to attract the largest possible number of children,” Denis said. He also pointed to the effort and time that the team needed to adapt to the startup’s changing strategy, and the care it put into doing that seamlessly, especially with its increasing need to hire more people.

User reception of Colorbug will be crucial to gauging the app’s success, and to determining the modifications it might need. However, what is certain for now is that Colorbug is aiming to fulfill the potential of the premature children’s content market. 

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