Mattel has long shown its colors as a tech-forward company — its BarbieGirls.com virtual world has in just two years grown in size to 18 million registered accounts. And just last week the company said it was moving in the direction of augmented reality, a technology with just a single precedent in the toy space (from baseball card-maker Topps).
The toy line, developed in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising (Fox Licensing) will feature heroes, creatures and vehicles straight from James Cameron’s much-anticipated film, which is set for release in December 2009.
The augmented reality technology used for the project was developped by AR world leader Total Immersion. Each action figure, vehicle and creature in the product line will come with a 3-D web tag, called an i-TAG, which consumers can “scan” using a home computer’s webcam. Scanning the i-TAG will reveal special content onscreen unique to the corresponding product. Exact content varies for each item, but could include biographical information, additional images and animated models of the figures. When the i-TAG for deluxe figures, vehicles or creatures are placed under a webcam, animated 3-D models will “come alive” through engaging, evading or defending moves. Place two i-TAGs from the “Battle Pack” together and the 3-D images will interact with each other.
“The development of our ‘Avatar’ toy line with the integration of the augmented reality technology marks an entirely new level of innovation in toys,” said Doug Wadleigh, Vice President for Boys Action Play Marketing, Mattel, Inc. “Boys will be able to play with the ‘Avatar’ figures and vehicles in ways that previously could only be imagined.”
Lora Cohn, Vice President, Fox Licensing added, “This is going to be a ground-breaking moment for both film and toy with the introduction of one the most innovative 3-D experiences ever conceived. Mattel has created the perfect complement to a film that is going to wow audiences the world over with its bold new vision.”
“Augmented reality is a software solution that has significantly gained momentum and popularity with advertisers, retailers and marketers over the past several years because of its unique ability to engage consumers in their experience with a brand,” said Bruno Uzzan, CEO and co-founder, Total Immersion. “The launch of Mattel’s ‘Avatar’ toy line is truly groundbreaking, as this marks the first time augmented reality has been featured in a mainstream consumer product line.”
Filed under: Press Release, Toys | Tagged: Augmented Reality, Avatar, Consumer products, Fox, Interactive Experience, James Cameron, Mattel, Toys | 3 Comments »