Ahead of Christmas, ZowPow Launches Plush Toy Controllers That Interact With Mobile Games

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Like moths to a flame, kids gravitate toward iPad and iPhone games. But for parents that want their children to still be exposed to real-world toys, a new startup called ZowPow is offering a way that they can do both.

The company makes plush toys that can control gameplay.

One of their very first toys is a tiny plane that can control up-and-down movement for a paired game called “Tiny Plane,” which is published by EA’s Chillingo.

The game controller they built has built-in sensors and accelerometers that can tell which direction the plane is facing, so that the plane in the game mimics its movement through Bluetooth LE (see the video below).

The two-person startup, which was just accepted for Y Combinator’s upcoming batch, is launching with two partner companies. The other is Get Set Games, a fairly well-known smaller studio that’s behind Mega Jump and Mega Run. The franchise’s protagonist Redford is getting his very own plush toy controller that costs $29.99.

The startup is selling both of their toys through their online store. This is just an initial start. Co-founder Jennifer Lu, who came from a business development background at Andreessen Horowitz-backed game developer TinyCo, says the startup plans to sign up many more titles from third-party developers.

They don’t plan to focus on building their own intellectual property in-house, and instead would rather partner with developers that already have their own unique characters and audiences. There’s a revenue share with the original developer for each toy they sell.

ZowPow’s platform supports iOS devices that are the iPhone 4S or later, the iPad 3 or later, then the iPad Mini and the iPod Touch 5. They can also connect to TVs if the iOS device owner has an HDMI adapter or AirPlay.