Liverpool-based tech studio Draw & Code is expanding to the US and Europe with an enhanced version of its augmented reality smart toy.

Their app SwapBots is an interactive AR app that enables children to digitally customise physical toys and bring them to life through a smartphone or tablet.

The expansion follows significant developments to SwapBots as a result of Activate, a part-ERDF funded project that helps SMEs grow by exploring technologies such as machine learning, virtual reality and AR.

“Access to funding is a major challenge for any business and Draw & Code is no exception,” said Phil Charnock, marketing manager at Draw & Code.

“Despite Liverpool City region being a hot-bed of interactive and games talent, it’s still hard to find the right staff and support.

“The opportunity to leverage experience like this is rare, and it’s encouraging to see business support programmes like Activate helping innovators access industry insight, for free.”

Swapbots

Swapbots toys

Supported by the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) and Activate, Draw & Code was able to access the skills and technology needed to achieve market validation and late-stage user testing of the app.

Roger McKinley, head of innovation at FACT, said: “We are immensely pleased to have supported Draw & Code’s growth over the last year.

“A company that’s always been very present in the city is now getting the recognition and world platform it deserves.

“FACT is thrilled to have supported Draw & Code through Activate and to have been a part of this brilliant company’s journey.

The aim is for the app to be pushed onto US and European retail markets by 2020.

Draw & Code, which recently showcased at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, also appointed two new staff members, being Former Angry Birds producer Becky Jones as lead producer and Brett Page, formerly of Hasbro, as commercial director.

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