Visitors to the Cellcom Mobile Show last month could not have missed the giant screen smack in the middle of the Petah Tikva expo space. The screen displayed a shooter-type video game, in which the good guys have to gun down the bad guys. Visitors were invited to pick up smartphones that were spread around the screen and use them as game pads to join in and take part in the game.
The screen and the game were the brainchild of Israeli startup Kwazy LABS, a company that's part high-tech firm, part marketing company and part project-management company.
"Our company focuses on crowd games for the purposes of advertising, marketing, entertainment and events," says Daled Dotan, company co-founder and VP of marketing. "We aim to wow. For example, in Eilat, we made a shoot 'em game complete with company branding on an 8-by-10-meter screen for Orbit [Communication Systems]."
The product Dotan is describing is the company's main product, called CrowdeeZ. It's a multiplayer game that can be customized to suit clients' demands – and be installed at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.
A second product Kwazy LABS offers is called QuiZcreen, which combines elements of what is known as augmented reality and second-screen capabilities – or in plain English, QuiZcreen presents the real world on a smartphone screen with additional layers of data (that's the augmented reality part); it also uses the smartphone as an entertainment medium that complements television. With QuiZcreen someone watching a TV series can point his or her smartphone at TV; the app then identifies where in the episode the user is and sends a question about that part of the episode to the viewer's smartphone. In short, the app increases interactivity between the viewer and the TV show. KwazyLABS built such this kind of app for "Hai Be'la La Land" ("Living in La La Land") an Israeli reality show.
A third KwazyLABS product is called KollecteeZ – which is inspired by card or stamp collecting of yore. Just that in this case the "card collecting" uses a smartphone to take photos of billboards and ads in the real world. The app allows users to hoard cards and even trade them with other users. "What all the products have in common is an experience that combines technology and gameplay for a broad audience and under the umbrella of a brand," Dotan says. "We call every product like this an 'engine' because a brand name and a new, customer-tailored experience can be built around it."
KwazyLABS sells its products directly to customers, but also through project-based companies that offer the games at conventions or events.
"We started out three years ago as a project-based company and found a demand for more technology for special events and the like, so little by little we became more focused," Dotan says. "We are a startup company in the sense that we are currently working to register patents for some of our products and because we are supported with external capital."
According to Dotan, KwazyLABS raised $200,000 in seed funding from an angel investor and the company is already talking about holding another investment round in Israel or abroad.
"Our horizon for development is abroad," Dotan says. "We are a small company, with nine employees, including three co-founders, that cover technology, as well as marketing and creative."