Bowl Expo 2022’s trade show side gets underway today and as a part of that, we have some news of a new partnership between Sega and a company by the name of 501 Entertainment or “501Fun.” What product are they bringing to the market? Augmented Reality (AR) darts.

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Called SMARTS Darts, this system uses projection mapping to create a much more dynamic and modern darts game than what you get with a traditional board, or even a coin-op dartboard. Granted, projection mapping is usually called “Mixed Reality” (MXR) but there’s no industry-standard definition on these terms so AR and MXR often overlap.

Anyways, for how this works, let me quote from the press release, which you can find in full at the bottom of the post:

Guests watch the game automatically keep score, overlay fun graphics presenting targets and lively animations through projection mapping, and even advertise menu items in real-time while gently encouraging friendly competition and social connection. SMARTS Darts AR is classic darts enhanced with videogame excitement.

Interestingly enough, Sega has been involved with darts in the recent past with the Darts Live system, although as far as I’ve been aware, it’s reach has been mainly limited to Japan. That has seen the likes of House of the Dead make an appearance in darts; I imagine that with an AR system here though, they could at some point integrate Sega IP into these games without too much trouble and something like Sonic darts or more HOTD darts could drive additional play to one of these systems.

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Here’s the full press release, which also details that the deal covers a mini-golf system as well:

For Immediate Release:

SOCIAL ENTERTAINMENT LEADER ANNOUNCES U.S. LAUNCH
OF TECH-ENHANCED MINIATURE GOLF AND DARTS
501 Entertainment Will Showcase Technology-Enhanced Updates of
Classic Games at the International Bowl Expo in Las Vegas

Kent, England (June 23, 2022) – 501 Entertainment, a global leader in social entertainment technology, is set to debut a new innovative interactive miniature golf product and launch its ground-breaking SMARTS Augmented Reality and Interactive Darts systems at the upcoming International Bowl Expo (bpaa.com/bowlexpo), the trade show organized by the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America (BPAA). 501 Entertainment will host interested parties on June 29th and 30th in booth #1236 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

These product launches are part of the UK-based company’s official entry into the U.S. market following an increasing global installation base and partnerships with high-profile venue UK partners including Gravity Active Entertainment, Lane 7, and Boom Battle Bar in the UK, and Funlab in Australia.

“501 Entertainment is excited to bring tech-led competitive socializing to the US,” said 501 Entertainment CEO, Jonny Powell. “The product lineup we’ve assembled for the States will appeal to casual patrons, game enthusiasts, and location operators of pubs and family entertainment centers of all kinds.”

Given that miniature golf has been played in the United States since the 1920s, it makes sense that 100 years later, 501 Entertainment would introduce its reimagined interactive minigolf product at the company’s first trade show event on US soil.

Partnering with Greenspan Projects Ltd (www.greenspanltd.com), a leading design and build company specialzsing in modular mini golf, 501’s interactive platform transforms traditional minigolf into the kind of fun, social experience that’s made other 501 Entertainment products both popular and commercially successful. Experiential features include automated stroke counting, interactive lighting, and a gamified scoring system that encourages guests try to score as many points as possible by hitting bonuses and avoiding hazards. Scores are sent to players
after the game, so they can share their successes on social media. Automatic guest email capture allows operators to build a local audience of mini golfers.

“With our cutting edge minigolf platform, 501 has utilized technology to enhance key elements of a tried and true social game,” said Powell, “We’ve delivered a powerhouse attention magnet and money-maker for operators of any location looking to provide memorable experiences and unique reasons for guests to extend dwell time.”

Also making their American debut at the International Bowl Expo will be 501’s heralded SMARTS Darts products. Proven to increase footfall, guest stay time, and average spend per head, SMARTS Interactive Darts expand the audience for traditional darts by introducing automated scoring and easy to play, yet highly competitive games.

SMARTS Darts AR will make history at the Bowl Expo as the first Augmented Reality Darts game commercially available in the United States. Guests watch the game automatically keep score, overlay fun graphics presenting targets and lively animations through projection mapping, and even advertise menu items in real-time while gently encouraging friendly competition and social connection. SMARTS Darts AR is classic darts enhanced with videogame excitement.

“501’s SMARTS Augmented Reality Darts perfectly complement bowling and the other activities we operate in our Wandsworth venue”, explained Michael Harrison COO of Gravity Active Entertainment, the fastest-growing leisure company in the U.K. “Given its small footprint, it really packs a punch in terms of utilization revenue and food and beverage sales. Gravity has 6 lanes of 501’s SMARTS Darts AR.

501 products deliver what is now the Amusement Industry’s most important growth concept: Competitive Socializing. While technology is the throughline connecting each of 501’s products, the games at the core of the entire product offering are nearly as old as pubs themselves. By enhancing this foundation of traditional physical gameplay with cutting-edge technology, 501 eliminates the generation gap between seasoned traditionalists and the more experientially motivated Millennial and Gen Z crowds.

“In an ever-changing consumer world where guests are looking for reasons to visit venues, 501 have innovated and delivered cutting edge competitive socializing technology that drives footfall and increases spend per head”, noted Pauline Bass, Director of Gaming at Stonegate Pub Group, the UK’s largest pub company, which operates around 4,800 pubs.

“With the ability to record and share everyday life through social media, consumers are prioritizing spending on experiential activities and are now more willing to invest in socially engaging entertainment that creates memories,” said Powell. “Many of the best operators are starting to provide experiences that boost overall guest spending, increase food and beverage sales, and create an energized, buzz-worthy atmosphere.’ To bring a 501 buzz to your location contact [email protected]

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About 501 Entertainment
Since 2018, 501 Entertainment has specialized in creating fun, entertainment systems for hospitality venues. Coming from the world of games, 501 has expertise in making engaging products, robust enough to withstand high traffic environments. 501 uses years of experience to deliver cutting-edge technology, meticulously designed for easy integration into the diverse and demanding requirements of hospitality workflows.
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