• WisBusiness

MagneTag takes ‘tag’ games to a more precise level

Adam Cohen of Milwaukee was playing with some spherical desk magnets at his desk one day when an idea struck him.

In high school, Cohen and his friends loved to play paintball in the woods. It was fun, but there was one big problem. With all the players covered in splatters of paint, “you never know if you hit the other person,” Cohen said.

Drawing from his physics background, Cohen realized that magnets would be an excellent solution. Tiny magnets just millimeters in size could be inserted into foam weapons. They would then produce electrical signals that could be recorded. This created an unambiguous, reliable scoring system -- an improvement over the honor system used in games such as paintball. With that, MagneTag was born.

“MagneTag is a new gaming system platform that I invented that uses magnets and magnet sensors as a basis for actually doing the tagging,” Cohen explained. “Instead of something like laser tag where you just point and shoot light at each other, you put magnets in projectiles. It’s a way of keeping track of things!”

“The most fun isn’t playing hardcore sports like paintball or Airsoft. The most fun is little foam toys and duking it out with your friends,” he added. Cohen hopes to incorporate darts, bows and arrows, swords, and shields into MagneTag, making it more flexible than other games.

After coming up with the concept for MagneTag, Cohen went to work at a collaborative workshop to hone the design.

“It took me several years to make it work,” he admitted. But the effort has paid off this year, when MagneTag became a semi-finalist in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

Right now, MagneTag’s scoring system is fairly basic. Players wear lights, which display different colors depending on how many times they have been hit. Looking ahead, Cohen envisions an even more exciting and complex set-up.

“Eventually, I want a whole system where you can score where you got hit, with different point values and different game types,” he said. Down the road, he also hopes to integrate the game into smart phones so that players can obtain detailed information in real time.

MagneTag aims to appeal to all ages. To reach a larger group of consumers, Cohen plans to design different “tiers” for the game. The current design is “affordable enough for your everyday consumer – something that you could buy at a Wal-Mart,” he explained. In the making, though, is a multi-level version of MagneTag that amusement complexes could rent out.

As the final touches are made to the product, Cohen stresses the importance of being local. He brings MagneTag equipment to bars and lets patrons try out the game. So far, the response has been quite positive.

“People are just like ‘Oh my god, where can I get this?’” he said. Once the product is released, Cohen hopes local teams will begin forming and planning competitions, which would build up MagneTag’s popularity.

However, Cohen doesn’t just want MagneTag’s hype to be built up in Wisconsin.

“I’m trying to do as much work as possible close to home, hiring people in the community,” he explained. “Making things in America is something I’m very big on.”

With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Cohen hopes to raise enough money to soon begin placing MagneTag in the market for people in Wisconsin and beyond to enjoy.

-- By Catherine Turng, for WisBusiness.com . Turng is a senior in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.

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