ZOOOOS is an interactive video system that enables the creation of highly interactive video-based programs on commonly available systems such as DVD players and digital video recorders (DVRs). The system uses a special controller and specially authored programs, and can be implemented on ordinary DVD players, DVRs, game platforms, computers, and other devices capable of delivering non-linear video. Besides the fact that it works on an enormous base of common devices, the essential advantage of the system is its simplicity and intuitive interface. Where other systems have deep layers of complexity, ZOOOOS is designed to be as simple as possible for users.
The system received the highest critical reviews of any system of its class from Children’s Technology Review. The editor of that publication called it “magic” at their annual industry conference, and included it in his annual Christmas column that he writes for the New York Times. It was also featured on ABC’s The View as one of the hot toys for Christmas. It was sold through QVC, Wal-Mart, and was a featured toy at FAO Schwartz stores. It remains available at Amazon. ZOOOOS also received the Parent’s Choice Award and an iParenting Media Award.
Billy Pittard conceived ZOOOOS as a result of insights he developed while he was pushing DVD’s interactivity to its limits on some interactive DVD programs that he was working on. He pitched my concept to Comchoice (now Zoo Digital), the leading independent DVD production company. They formed a partnership and further developed the system with help from Comchoice’s CTO, Duncan Wain and engineering lead, Scott Cernetic.
The partners licensed the system to Funrise Toys for manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. The partners then produced a series of educational interactive DVDs for young children. Billy Pittard conceived and directed the production of all of the programs. The first set of programs was based on a property called Sandy Lane that he created for this platform. Popular children’s properties were licensed for additional programs. Licensed properties included Thomas and Friends, Bob the Builder, Spider-Man, and a live-action program with the San Diego Zoo.
The programs include a variety of games and interactive learning experiences that were conceived from the ground up as interactive video programs. The activities included several interactive books and comic books with enhancements that brought the books to life, helped teach reading skills, and even taught foreign languages.
Eight programs were also implemented on DirecTV’s DVR, but they have not been taken to market because of internal issues at DirecTV. The programs did however work beautifully on DirecTV’s DVR.
The system has been granted patents in major world markets including a U.S. utility patent.
Below is a direct response TV spot for the system.