Please describe the scope of their work in detail.
One of the first things they did for us after the developer studio website was build a prototype for us to download mp3 files for the audio jack on Apple and Android devices. So, we have a line of plushes called Scout, and Scout has connected features where you can personalize the plush with your child's name, favorite food, favorite color, and things like that. It had been dependent upon a PC client for doing all of that, for handling the connection between the device and the customization.
What we wanted to do was make that a little bit more nimble and provide the same functionality, but for mobile devices. Some members of our internal engineering teams had doubted that it was a viable solution. FS put together a nice prototype for us to show that it was a viable solution, and that's the way that we have ended up connecting that particular product and maintaining the feature set, while adding this new functionality.
From there it has grown into lots of different things. In time, they have developed a really clear understanding of our proprietary software, proprietary firmware, and they have done some really integrative core technology development for us. Last year, we worked on a product called LeapTV, which was a home gaming console designed for young kids, and one of the features of LeapTV was that it had a camera attached to it. We wanted to use the camera for a couple of different things. One, for allowing the kid to become the star of the show, putting the kid within the game content itself. Then, we also wanted to use it to provide some light tracking, so that we could turn our controller into a wand essentially, and make kids be able to use that as a baseball bat, or a sword, or whatever. FS built what we ended up calling LS Vision, which was basically that functionality for our hardware. On top of that, they also helped pitch it. When we were starting to get behind last year on LeapTV, FS brought in additional engineering resources to help shore up our internal firmware efforts.
We've been working with them for the last year or so on a tool that allows us to take all of our proprietary firmware-based content, which we call Brio, and port it over to Android. They've built a porting solution for us that allows us to take basically whatever components of our library that we want, and put them in an Android environment or a new tablet that we're working on. So, they've really gotten involved in some high-risk and high-reward products for us, which showed a great level of technical capacity and technical innovation.
The custom development they've been doing for us would have been largely on the Web, and then moving into Brio development for our devices. They modified OpenTV to produce LS Vision, and then now working in Android and building an Android analog of our SDK to enable the Android porting layer that they've been working on for us.
They are also building some software for us as well. We've got what we call reward stores on all of our platforms, and FS has built the store itself handling the transactions as well as developing the user interface (UI). So, they are now moving beyond pure engineering and into UI/UX [user interface/user experience] and interactive content for us.
How did you come to choose FS Studio?
The head of our developer services team had known Tim Martin [CEO at FS Studio], and reached out to him when we started to work at refreshing our developer portal. The work they did there was excellent. Because what we do is so specialized, and because a lot of our software and hardware is so specialized, having somebody who knows how things work and being able to go back to them repeatedly as a partner is incredibly valuable to us. As our aspirations and ambitions grow for what we want to do every year, we need to reach out more and more often to outside service providers. Having somebody who knows how you work and who they're working with intimately, makes the selection process on vendors so much easier, especially when they deliver so consistently.
Could you provide a general cost estimate for this engagement?
I don't know off the top of my head. It really varies by product.
How long have you been working with them?
The relationship with them has been ongoing for about three or four years at this point.