The Interactive Floormat




The Project

The MatGames Floorstation was an interactive floormat for PC. The finished mat had a grid of 5 x 8 pressure sensitive pads and connected to a PC running the MatGames software.

The concept and in-house product development was by ProSys. A software company based in south London. Two things stick in my memory about them:

They had nice people. The founders in particular were very smart and approachable. The company has a strong family feel.

ProSys were strong on research and development. Particularly in the early days of the web. I spent a lot of my tenure building experimental web interfaces. The company's principle product was an innovative graph database for Windows.

About a year into my time there they had a barbecue, at which they floated the idea of an interactive floormat. The product design and software development was all in-house. The founders made several trips to China to arrange the manufacturing.

What I worked on

I joined Prosys at the beginning of 1999, ostensibly to start the web department. I worked on branding and animation in Flash and a lot of R&D around data visualisation.

We developed two packs of games for the floorstation. They were all written in Flash 4. A early version of Actionscript that used an idiosyncratic frame based coding environment. It was that niche expertise that got me the job at Pogo.

What I learned

Products need marketing. The company was great at innovation but a little naive about marketing. They learned quickly though and took the mat to the BETT show. Features on the BBC, ITV's This Morning and the QVC shopping channel followed soon after.

Products need positioning. The floorstation was more rugged than most of the dance mats that appeared around the same time. But that made it more expensive to produce. Finding it difficult to compete in that market, it found a better home in the education sector.