LevelUp, Inc.’s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Sabertron: Foam Swords with Electronic Scoring has successfully surpassed its $50,000 goal less than a week after it launched, fulfilling the swordplay dreams of backers who can now expect these high-tech toys to be deliver in time for the holidays.
Texas-based engineer David Lynch created the concept while he was trying to find a new toy for his sons that was a compelling alternative to spending endless hours on the couch playing video games. His solution was to make lightweight, soft-touch foam swords combined with technology typically found in smartphones. This enabled the swords themselves to differentiate between successful hits and defensive blocks while keeping score in real time with LED light meter displays on the handle. The results raised the game far beyond the usual sticks and cardboard tubes we grew up.
“The [smartphone] sensors are now cheap,” He explained. “But no one’s taken them and asked ‘What can we do with these? What new games are possible when toys can talk to each other? Thanks to our Kickstarter backers, LevelUp is now ready to take interactive gaming off the screens and into the real world.”
LevelUp actually tried an earlier Kickstarter campaign for Sabertron last February, but despite receiving glowing notice from the media and enthusiastic backers, that campaign failed to reach its goal, and no money was received.
Undeterred, Mr. Lynch rallied his team while learning from the experience. Lynch updated their prototype and lowered the funding goal plus they improved campaign content. Example of the updates include the current campaign’s distinactive video, which has been described as a “70s grindhouse and educational video” mash-up.
Having now eclipsed its goal with 23 days left to go before the June 14th closing date, LevelUp plans to continue campaigning for more funds. Stretch goals like connected shields and a multiplayer “Melee Mode” are in the works, as is their larger mission to bring video games and action sports together to create a whole new gaming galaxy. Independent tech news, reviews and analysis website Re/code believes Sabertron is the beginning of something big and noted, “This is just the very tip of an Everest-sized iceberg that this tech can lead to.”
The Sabertron swords come in two styles options, Lightsword and Medieval, and feature “Five Ways to Slay,” otherwise known as game modes offering different ways to count the “damage recorded by the swords during play. With “Countdown” mode, three body blows result in a wine, while “Eternal Struggle” mode rewards successful defense by restoring health, creating the potential for extended battles. All game modes are described on the Kickstarter campaign page along with premium sword upgrades like illuminated blades, touchscreen controls, and Bluetooth connectivity for syncing swordplay stats with a dedicated smartphone app.
The swords are designed to be high-end toys for children and adults, utilizing quality-finished materials and high-strength polycarbonate core construction to make them as light as possible yet tough enough for Live Active Role Play (LARP) gamers to engage with. Through its campaign, entry-level “Apprentice” swords are available at the $99 pledge level, while a signed poster featuring the LevelUp team can be had for $25.
The poster also show a scene from the project video with Mr. Lynch standing triumphantly over Mr. Reichard and Mr. Mandy, foam sword pointed to the sky. It reads, “Foam Swords, Electronic Scoring. How is this not a thing yet?”
As of today the campaign has raised a total of $55,757 from 379 backers.
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