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Captain Wallace’s Alphabet Expedition adventurer born locally

May 11th, 2011 · 1 Comment

The Captain Wallace app began as an idea between three dads who work in Liberty Village. Courtesy Ken Reddick.

By Gurpreet Ghag

According to his Twitter account, Captain Wallace is an adventurer, a mustache enthusiast, a pith hat collector, and a friend to all animals. He once spent a week in the belly of a whale with only a ginger beer and a loaf of bread.

You may be surprised to know then, that the travelling Captain’s roots are here in Liberty Village.

Yes, as it happens, “Wallace, the fictional guide of ‘Captain Wallace’s ABC expedition,’” an iPad app that helps children learn their alphabet through familiarizing themselves with animal names, is the creation of three fathers who work out of Meldmedia Inc. (360 Dufferin St.).

It all began in 2008, when soon-to-be father Chris Barrett was preparing his nursery.

“I was looking for an animal print that could be put around the room, but I didn’t find one that I liked,” said Barrett, “So, I made one myself.”

Then he took the idea to Adrian Newbould, who tried to help come up with a name for the prints and turn them into a book.

“At the time, I was just calling it ‘Alphabet Zoo,’” said Barrett.

Newbould then shared this idea with Ken Reddick, the owner of Meldmedia, who was doing advertising and design at the time, but liked the prints very much and wanted to help produce something interactive out of them.

The illustrations then turned into animations, but what to do with them was still in the air.

“We thought it would be some bumpers for kids television programming, or some kind of animated web experience, but then I woke up one morning and realized that we had an app on our hands,” said Reddick.

The next morning, Barrett threw together an interface for an iPhone app.

“It was small, but it worked,” recalls Reddick, explaining that the app was functional and enjoyable, but the resolution didn’t allow the pictures to be fully appreciated. “And then halfway through the development, the iPad came out and we were like, ‘We have an iPad app on our hands.’”

Slowly all the pieces started coming together. The developers’ children acted as testers to the app, telling their fathers what they did and did not like. In fact Adrian’s seven-year-old daughter, Emina, is actually the voice that is heard when a letter is pressed on the app.

Courtesy Ken Reddick.

After careful work on animations, voices, and interface, the ABC Expedition was released on February 3.

Sales were slow at first, but recently the team got some much-deserved recognition when the American Apple store featured the app on their staff favourites list.

“Sales have gone up eight hundred percent since then,” said Barrett, “and we’re currently staff favourites in Mexico, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, South Africa, and the United States, which is huge.” The app has now sold over 2,500 copies, and the team couldn’t be happier.

“We’re not some big company cranking out apps, we’re three dads who are doing this out of passion, and we really wanted to put out something we love. There could have been a ton of shortcuts made, but we kept going back and making sure the animations were perfect, and the voices were perfect, and the interface was perfect; we just put a lot of care into this and said if we were happy with this other people would feel the same,” said Newbould.

The team hopes to get started on a mathematics version of the app soon.

To find out more about the Captain and his alphabet adventures, you can follow him on Twitter.

Tags: General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Gran Louise // May 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I think it is the BEST App because my granddaughter always wants to play with my iPhone and now she has her own game which she loves.