Chirp brings the magic of Skylanders into the real world

A few years ago, Activision were facing a problem. The next iteration of their
$3bn Skylanders franchise, ‘Skylanders Imaginators’, would give users the
ability to create their own Skylanders character. It was the first time in the
franchise’s history that their users would have this level of creativity
available to them and naturally, Activision wanted users to be able to share
their creations with their friends.

Yet, although they had a robust set of creation tools on each gaming platform,
they didn’t have a way for players to share their creations with the world.
Players could use an internet connection, but a large number of parents prefer
not to connect their kid’s console to the internet for safety reasons. So
Activision had to find a way to transfer these custom Skylanders characters
out of the game completely offline to some sort of mobile companion app where
the character could then be shared. Activision needed a technology that could
transfer an entire character’s worth of data reliably, could work on both
console and mobile, and could be taken on the move by its users as well.

Toys for Bob’s founder, Paul Reiche, talks about Imaginators

Thankfully, they discovered Chirp! Activision worked out that by using our
unique data-over-audio technology, they could transfer literally millions of
different designs, abilities, catchphrases and musical themes all through
sound, whether the device was online or offline. Not only that, but Skylanders
players could actually hear the transfer happening, giving it a magical quality fitting for the game as your TV talks to your phone!

Chirp not only makes Skylanders Imaginators a more social game, it also makes it a true real-world experience, a concept pioneered by Activision through their ‘Toys to Life’ strategy. Thanks to Chirp, players now have the ability to submit their custom Skylander via the companion app, where it can then be turned into a 3D figure or a trading card. The figure and trading card are also both playable via the game’s ‘Portal of Power’, which completes the Toys to Life loop and gives Activision new revenue opportunities. This is the first example of how sound can be used to transform a gaming experience, and the fact Activision chose to use Chirp in one of their most important titles speaks volumes about their confidence in what our technology can deliver for them.

With Imaginators, players can create their own Skylander

Whilst our standard Chirp product takes just minutes to integrate into existing platforms like iOS, Android and Javascript, Skylanders Imaginators had special requirements that required a bit of genius from our developers to make their ambitions a reality. Each user-created character contains 20x the amount of data a standard chirp is able to contain, so we developed a custom chirp for Activision that contains all parameters they needed. We also made improvements to the decoder to be incredibly robust against the unique acoustics of a typical living room (soft/hard furnishings, windows & doors, background noise including loud talking and music or the odd passing siren!).

The project was a success for both Chirp and Activision, with a number of
gaming tech journalists noting how innovative the transfer technology was for
Skylanders. One journalist even described our tech as not only creative, but
pretty amazing’! Our technology is just one small (albeit integral) part of the Imaginators experience — so for journalists to be specifically noting our technology is a huge compliment.

This is only the beginning of Chirp’s involvement in the gaming industry.
We’re looking forward to building upon our success with Activision, so watch
this space!

In the meantime, we’ve been having fun in Chirp Labs experimenting with,
Amazon’s Alexa / Echo — check out the video above to see how we’ve been
co-operating. It seems Alexa really likes Skylanders too ;-)

For more about Chirp, head over to Chirp.io
To see videos of Chirp in action, check out our vimeo.