Wiggle Planet Educational Game Demo at CES 2016

Exciting times here at Wiggle Planet!  We just finished creating an educational game demo featuring our Wiglet characters working with the new Square Panda Playset.


The Square Panda Playset is an accessory to the iPad that utilizes physical letters and an electronic playset to wirelessly connect to the iPad and engage children in multi-sensory games that explore phonics and basic reading skills.

Our game demo titled “Monster Dance Party” was included in presentations with Square Panda’s release at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

Check out the video below for a full tour of Monster Dance Party:

This project was a lot of fun, and we’re looking to do more!  If you’re interested in developing innovative games and apps that leverage big data with emotionally-resonant dynamic characters that truly have a life of their own, we’d love to talk with you.

– John Lester
Lead Technology Evangelist, Wiggle Planet



In The News: Wiggle Planet in The Press Democrat

Wiggle Planet was recently featured on the front page of the The Press Democrat.  The leading article discussed the rise of coworking spaces in Sonoma County, and the front page photo featured Wiggle Planet founder Jeffrey Ventrella and his dog friend Otto.


Wiggle Planet in the News: “Petaluma startup’s educational app plays with reality”

Petaluma’s primary newspaper, the Petaluma Argus Courier, just ran a great piece about Wiggle Planet.

Wiggle Planet has developed a software platform that allows for the creation of emotionally intelligent animated characters that can inhabit the world around us through geolocation-based augmented reality.

Wiggle Planet has developed a software platform that allows for the creation of emotionally intelligent animated characters that can inhabit the world around us through geolocation-based augmented reality.

“Petaluma startup’s educational app plays with reality”

What if you could open a book and have the characters spring to life from the pages to play and interact with? It sounds like fantasy, but the creative minds at Petaluma-based Wiggle Planet, are making it reality — an “augmented reality” that has the potential to disrupt the educational and entertainment industries.

Founded by Jeffrey Ventrella in 2012, Wiggle Planet has developed a software platform that allows for the creation of emotionally intelligent animated characters that can inhabit the world around us through geolocation-based augmented reality. Differing from virtual reality, augmented reality is a layer of the digital world on top of the real world. Augmented reality incorporates the real world as opposed to virtual reality that is designed to escape it.

It sounds complex, but for the average person it’s simple. The user downloads a Wiggle Planet app and through it is able to see and interact with a unique variety of animated characters called Wiglets that are “artificially alive.” Through the software they’ve developed, the Wiglets incorporate artificial intelligence, virtual physics and genetic inheritance, which make them completely different from the characters in video games.

“They are dynamic characters that can be used in particular for storytelling,” said John Lester, lead technology evangelist for Wiggle Planet. “They are not pre-programmed or scripted agents. They are artificially alive. They have dynamic, evolving behaviors. And the best way to summarize it is this: it’s augmented reality plus artificial life as an overlay on the physical world.”

Check out the full article for lots of great information!

peck peck character in petaluma

Peck Peck, an animated character created by Wiggle Planet, stands outside the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Lead Technology Evangelist, Wiggle Planet

The Future of Digital Storytelling with Dynamic Characters at #DigitalHollywood


Looking for the Future of Digital Storytelling with Dynamic Characters?

Here’s our new one-sheet handout that summarizes how we’re making it happen.

Look for us at Digital Hollywood 2015 this week!


Team Wiggle Planet

Wiggle Planet at Digital Hollywood 2015


We’re thrilled to announce that Jeffrey, the founder of Wiggle Planet, will be presenting on a panel at the Fall 2015 Digital Hollywood Conference.

The conference will be held October 19th – 22nd at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey, California.

Here are the details on Jeffrey’s panel:

AR – VR and the Human Brain:
The Impact of Neuromarketing on the Real-Time Design of Immersive Entertainment and Advertising Productions
Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
9:45 AM – 11:00 AM – The VR – AR – Immersive Track

As part of Team Wiggle Planet’s push to explore the future of immersive entertainment/education and how Wiglets intersect with all of these innovations, JeffreyJohn Lester and Jackie Van Winkle will be attending the entire event from Oct 19th to the 22nd.

If you’re in the neighborhood and would like to connect with us, please drop us a line at info@wiggleplanet.com.

-Team Wiggle Planet


Mind Children for Children’s Minds

Dog vs. Robot Cute Dog Maymo

Hans Moravec wrote a book in 1990 called Mind Children, about robots and the future of humans and artificial intelligence. I haven’t read the book, but I did read Moravec’s “Human Culture: A Genetic Takeover Underway“, which influenced me greatly. I included it as required reading for an Artificial Life class I taught at Tufts in the 90’s.

As we approach the singularity, it will become increasingly evident that Darwinian evolution will have minimal effect as technological evolution races forward at ever-increasing speeds, leaving human genetic evolution in the dust. In a way, you could say that human evolution is indeed happening right now at a very high rate (that is, if you replace the ancient agents of replication (genes) with the more nimble agents of replication (memes)…and the emergent manifestation of interacting memes: human culture – and technology.

…which leads me to why I used Moravec’s book title in the title of this blog post. Currently, children have more than good old-fashioned cartoon characters and plastic dolls to play with. Their toys are coming to life.

When you add augmented reality with artificial intelligence, a new kind of animated personality begins to emerge.


Real and imaginary are about to enter into a future dance in which they will whirl at such a velocity that we may have a hard time telling them apart.

But what are the consequences of animated characters that become more “alive” than ever before? Children are more prone to failing the Turing Test. So…will more realistic AI characters confuse their developing theories of mind?

Some argue that this is mostly positive; it simply fuels a child’s imagination, which already naturally blends real and imaginary as a matter of course.

The picture below is from an article titled: Neuroscientists identify brain mechanisms that predict generosity in children.


This kind of research is being used by some toy manufacturers and game designers to teach kids social skills.

Let me just state an opinion, for the record:

If you want kids to learn how to socialize, there is no substitute for playing with REAL kids.

(A possible exception may be autistic kids who need tools to give them some non-face time to give them some training for the real thing.)

Now, why would I state that kids need to play with each other to learn to socialize, while at the same time eagerly developing self-animated characters in augmented reality?

Barry, Jeff, and Peck Peck

I believe the key is in the intent.

The way we must bravely enter into our technological future and to prepare that future for our children is to keep a clear distinction between real and imaginary – to stay on top of the game, as it were. And to give kids the tools to enhance their imaginations – while not distorting their sense of reality. This may become a challenge as screen-time and face-time blur with ever convincing digitally-enhanced experiences. But it is important to keep in mind.

We need to keep the problem of “robot morality” in the same bucket as age-old problems of how kids react sympathetically to cartoon characters.

That’s my opinion. What’s yours?



Give us Feedback and we’ll Send you a Real (Physical) Augmented-Reality-Enabled Greeting Card

We love creative ideas about the future of artificial life, augmented reality and Wiglets.

And we also want to build a community that supports people who are fascinated by all this as much as we are.

So we’ve put together a short survey to help us learn more.  As a reward for completing it, we’ll snail-mail you a Wiglet Greeting Card that will show you something special when you use the free Peck-Peck’s Perch app.

These are high-quality color printed cards that are blank on the inside for you to use however you wish (send to a friend or keep for yourself).

You'll get one of these high-quality color printed greeting cards!

>>> Click here to take the Survey! <<<

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester