AliveLab sidestep retail challenges in UK market to win export Award.

AliveLab, creators of the Mardles Augmented Reality range have won a prestigious export award from the Department of International Trade.

The company founders were invited to the Foreign Office on Monday where they were presented with their Board of Trade Award for Outstanding Contribution to International Trade and Investment by Dr Liam Fox MP.

AliveLab was founded by Sharon Wyness and James Murden, friends who met whilst guest-presenting on TV Shopping Channel QVC. The duo launched Mardles in 2015 and have since sold over 750,000 Augmented Reality products worldwide, they are now partnering with others to add value to their range.

Graham Nicholas, International Trade Advisor for the DIT said “It has been a pleasure working with Sharon & James who are incredibly pro-active, enthusiastic and forward thinking in their international sales development.

They have taken full advantage of advice and services available through DIT and thoroughly deserve the success which will no doubt continue into the future.”

Sharon Wyness, CEO of AliveLab said “We are surprised and delighted to accept this award, as one of just 3 companies in the London region, particularly as such a young company in the toy market.”

James Murden Chief Visionary Officer added: This is a particularly exciting time for AliveLab as Augmented Reality is more popular than ever before and we are frequently approached by other companies to add our magic to their product range, service or attraction”

International Trade Secretary and President of the Board of Trade Dr Liam Fox MP said:

Each year, my international economic department helps thousands of companies of every size to break into global markets, ensuring consumers around the world can access the best of British products and services.

The BOFTAs given to these companies highlight their exceptional trading performance and will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

The award will take pride of place on AliveLab’s stand at Nuremberg Toy Fair where the company will be exhibiting in Hall 3A on stand B31

Anyone wanting to book an appointment can email:

Sharon added “We are very grateful for the advice and support of the DIT since we stumbled across them at Spring Fair in Birmingham. We strongly recommend any British business to talk to their their local trade advisor even if they haven’t thought of export before.”

In March 2018, the Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade launched the Board of Trade Awards to recognise excellence in trade and investment. The Department for International Trade works with thousands of businesses, and our company has been identified as one that has demonstrated exceptional innovation, delivered prosperity for the UK, and championed free trade. This Award has been granted to us by the Department for International Trade and the UK Board of Trade as a mark of recognition for our contributions to trade and investment in the year 2018.

Photo shows AliveLab founders Sharon Wyness and James Murden collecting their award from Dr Liam Fox MP.

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Parents’ fears about Augmented Reality

We’ve all seen the headlines about smart devices and app-enabled toys that can be hacked, allowing ner-do-wells to spy on your family. We’ve been creating AR since 2014 and this worry came up regularly in our focus groups when we were developing Mardles.

Putting aside our frustration at some of the fear mongering from National papers, we knew that we needed to address parents’ concerns – and we did – so here’s answers to those common questions:

Will I get spammed? – we don’t collect any data and there’s no need to register. If something is ‘Powered by Mardles’ you only need the Augmented Reality app to bring it to life – we didn’t create it so we can spam you with marketing. There’s also NO ADVERTISING.

Can I be tracked? – Again – no – the only data we get is how many times our app is downloaded, so if you want to bring an octopus to life on the toilet we won’t know about it. (Unless you post a selfie on Twitter and tag us in it. Please don’t)

Are there in-app purchases? – No. Our whole premise has always been that the app was 100% parent friendly so you don’t get any nasty surprises. It is literally impossible for kids or parents to buy anything via our app.

Will it use my data allowance? – Again – no – once the app is downloaded you don’t need data or Wi-Fi to bring our characters to life – The whole point of Mardles  is ‘We bring Everything to Life’ not just things that are in range of your Wi-Fi.

‘Free? What’s the catch?’ Some apps make their money from advertising, some make their money by collecting data, others have things that you can purchase whilst you are using it. Our app is 100% FREE because you’ve ALREADY paid for the product – be it a physical product from our store or entrance to an event. And if the event is free, THEY’VE paid for the product.


Find us at the following Toy Fairs in early 2019

If you’d like to talk to us about adding AR to kids toys and games then drop us a line or visit us at the following events:

  • We’ll be visiting London Toy Fair and have meeting slots available on the 22nd of January 2019 – drop us a line if you’d like to catch up.
  • We’ll be showcasing our Augmented Reality Toys and Games for kids at Spielwarenmesse Nuremberg Toyfair 30th January – 3rd February in Hall 3 on stand B31
  • We’re visiting Spring Fair in Birmingham from the 3rd – 7th of February – drop us a line if you’d like to meet one of the team to discuss your AR project.
  • We’ll also be at New York Toy Fair on the 16th – 19th of February – we have meeting slots available for any companies who would like to explore AR for kids.

Family friendly with a side of Augmented Reality

When Pokémon Go – the Augmented reality ‘catch ‘em all’ game launched, our local pub was already pretty family friendly however, by sheer luck they were also slap bang next to a Pokestop (where players could find rewards).

Over the summer we found it increasingly difficult to find a seat outside, as their garden filled up with families enjoying not only their AR game but also good old fashioned outdoor fun and great food. Of course we can’t say it was all because of the AR (Their macaroni cheese is spectacular) but we could see parents and children enjoying time together and spending money on food and drinks in the meantime!

Our recent partnership with Beefeater is a great example of mixing old and emerging technology to enhance the customer experience whilst keeping the kids occupied between the moment you’ve persuaded them try something with veg and the fallout because there are two too many peas!