Osmo, the iPad-powered gaming device built by former Googlers (and dads) as a way to turn tablets into more “hands-on” toys, has raised $12 million in Series A funding, the company is announcing today. The round was led by Accel Partners’ Rich Wong, and includes investment from Upfront Ventures and K9 Ventures. The company is also announcing that its products, which are currently available for sale online, will also be made available in 284 Apple stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Just a month ago, Osmo announced it had well exceeded its sales goals for its hardware-based iPad game, selling $2 million in pre-orders, including those from over 2,000 schools.
The company was founded in early 2013 by Pramod Sharma, who helped build Google’s book-scanning machine, and Jérôme Scholler, who worked on Chrome for Android while at Google. The hardware in its gaming kit includes a reflective camera that snaps on the top of the iPad, a stand, and physical game pieces like letter tiles and puzzle shapes. The camera sees the objects placed in front of it, then uses that capability to combine real-world play and virtual gaming.
For example, Osmo’s word game shows a scrambled word on the screen, then players race to arrange their letter tiles to spell out the word faster than their friends. In another game, players arrange puzzle pieces to match up with a shape on the screen.
Accel has a number of investments in education, mobile and gaming, which makes it a good fit for leading Osmo’s A round. That experience includes education companies like Lynda.com, Educreations and Wyzant, as well as mobile and gaming companies like Supercell, Rovio, Playfish, MoPub, AdMob, Tune and SwiftKey.
“We are excited by the Osmo technology that integrates the physical and digital spaces, and believe that this has applications from education, gaming and other forms of entertainment,” Wong tells TechCrunch. “We certainly believe this goes beyond the phase I experiences Osmo has shipped so far,” he adds.
Osmo’s first games include the above-mentioned puzzle game (Tangram) and word game (Words) as well as a creative drawing game (Newton). But the company also plans to open its platform up to allow for new titles and customizations. It already launched a site at my.playosmo.com, which allows anyone to upload their own images and word lists to customize Osmo’s current games, and CEO Pramod Sharma said previously that allowing third-party developers to build games for Osmo is also on its longer-terms roadmap.
Osmo’s game kit sold for $49 while on pre-order and will retail for $99. Currently, it’s $79. Hundreds of teachers from over 150 schools are already using the game in their classrooms, many of which are in the team’s home base of Palo Alto.
For Accel, however, what encouraged its investment is the fact that Osmo appears to have found a product that has not just interested consumers, but that audience has also eagerly bought the product, even while on pre-order.
“The $2 million+ traction in just this short time and the interest from Apple in distribution is a great sign of the excitement and product/market fit for this first phase product,” says Wong.