Home FaceChipz: Internet of Things Meets Social Networking

FaceChipz: Internet of Things Meets Social Networking

Remember POGS? Don’t feel bad if you don’t – you’ve just dated yourself, that’s all. These round collectible discs were used to play a children’s game (also called POGS) back in the 1990’s. Thanks to the incredible popularity of these little tokens, collecting POGS became a generation-defining fad for the demographic group known as the millenials. Where baby boomers had baseball cards and Generation X had Garbage Pail Kids, the young members of Gen Y had their POGS.

Now prepare yourself for POGS’ return – POGS 2.0, if you will. Except this time around, the chips have been wired for the digital age. And today, the “game” is a social network called FaceChipz instead of a old-fashioned variation on marbles.

FaceChipz: If POGS Was a Social Network

FaceChipz is a new social networking site designed just for kids. Intended primarily for the “tween” set who’s outgrown children’s websites but hasn’t quite aged into Facebook yet, FaceChipz merges real-world networking with an online component. After purchasing a starter set of five chips, the child has their parent register an account for them on the FaceChipz website. Then the game begins.

The child registers all their chips online using the unique identification code found on the back of each token. When all the chips have been registered, they can be distributed to friends. In return, the child’s friends will hand them their FaceChipz. When the exchange is complete, the child returns to the computer to register the new codes from the chips they’ve collected. The end result is a social network of friends with a physical counterpart in the real world – a brightly colored collection of FaceChipz that can be toted around just like POGS were decades ago.

Social Networking Training Wheels

Parents will appreciate the fact that the FaceChipz network offers a more secure and private environment for their kids than traditional social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. No strangers can solicit friendship requests here – the child’s only online friends are those they’ve connected with in real life. There isn’t even a search mechanism for friends to find each other without first trading chips. While that design decision is obviously meant to keep FaceChipz sales steady, the company claims it has another goal as well: to prepare children for the online world of social networking. Reads the company website, “FaceChipz wants to help kids stay safe, but also enable them to communicate using today’s technology platforms…If your kids are savvy enough to make appropriate real world friendships, we believe that those relationships will be suitable and appropriate for the digital network they create.”

Other privacy protections are offered too. For example, the code on the back is only valid upon first entry. Afterwards, if a lost chip ended up in a stranger’s possession, they couldn’t use the code to connect to the child. Also, FaceChipz profiles are designed so kids are only permitted to post a limited amount of information and their email address is not stored. FaceChipz makes sure that none of their site’s pages are indexed by search engines. Finally, when the child is ready to graduate to a more adult network, their account can be permanently deleted.

Will FaceChipz Become the New POGS?

All the elements are there that could make FaceChipz a success: collectible tokens, an online element and parent-friendly company ethics. There’s another bonus, too: the chips are cheap. A five-pack is just $4.99 at ToysRUs and the one-time site registration fee is only $1.00. If anything, the fee is only there so mom or dad get involved and are made aware of the child’s online activities.

However, in this day and age, FaceChipz may be too innocent a portal to attract tweens. On a web filled with insane YouTube videos and the (often disturbing and occasionally pornographic) webcam-hopping service, Chatroulette, will a “your first social network” site even have a chance? Will today’s youngest generation take to a modern equivalent of POGS or have they seen too much already? Only time (and sales figures) will tell.

Thanks to Springwise for spotting this.

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