With AR Technology in i-TAG Toys, Topps Trading Cards and More, Is Toy Industry Nearing a Tipping Point?
LOS ANGELES (February 11, 2010) – With the holiday season now behind us and Toy Fair opening this week, are we witnessing a revolution in how kids play?
Last fall, in advance of the release of Twentieth Century Fox’s epic action-adventure film, “Avatar,” Mattel launched a new line of action figures based on characters, creatures and vehicles in the film — the first retail toys ever to incorporate augmented reality (AR) technology.
Each toy in the product line includes a 3D web tag, called an i-TAG — developed by Total Immersion (www.t-immersion.com), the global leader in AR — which consumers can display before a webcam. Scanning the i-TAG reveals special content onscreen unique to the corresponding product. When the i-TAG for deluxe figures, vehicles or creatures are placed under a webcam, animated 3-D models “come alive” through engaging, evading or defending moves. Said a CNET correspondent, “I’ve seen the future of toys and it’s augmented reality.”
The i-TAG product line came on the heels of Topps’ 3D Live trading cards for both Major League Baseball and the NFL, which introduced a broad audience to AR and a groundbreaking enhancement to the trading card, a beloved American classic. Just as AR is beginning to redefine game play, it is also bringing a new dimension to the children’s encyclopedia genre. Nathan and Total Immersion recently received an LSA Innovation Oscar for the Dokeo Augmented Reality Encyclopedia, dubbed the “best innovative cultural product for 2009” in France.
A year ago, industry pundit Jonathan Samet of Toy Insider identified five trends that he suggested would shape the business:
- Lower priced toys (toys under $25)
- Toys based on movie/entertainment properties
- Science toys
- Green toys
- Access to the Internet and digital websites
Similarly, the Toy Association itself echoed those trends, in a report that called out budget toys, green toys, movie toys and interactive and digital toys. Noted the association: “Computers and web searching abilities have greatly influenced children’s play patterns in recent years. Links to website and added content will be offered through websites dedicated for this purpose only.”
“By the toy industry’s own assessments, digital forms of game play are ready for prime time, and the Topps cards and Mattel i-TAG toys touch on virtually all of the current industry trends,” said Bruno Uzzan, CEO and co-founder, Total Immersion. “Augmented reality has gained momentum because of its unique ability to engage consumers in their experience with a brand. Mattel’s ‘Avatar’ toy line and Topps’ new take on trading cards are truly groundbreaking, by taking key assets of important franchises and placing them in the consumer’s hands, to extend these brands in new environments, in new ways.
“At the same time, these toy lines suggest that digital play patterns are taking their place alongside durable toys,” Uzzan said. “Digital toys represent an exciting addition to the mix, bringing characters to life and enhancing both the physical toy and the property from which that toy is derived.”
About Total Immersion
Total Immersion (www.t-immersion.com) is the global leader in augmented reality. Through its patented D’Fusion® technology, Total Immersion blurs the line between the virtual world and the real world by integrating real time interactive 3D graphics into a live video stream. Leading the augmented reality category since 1999, the company maintains offices in Europe (France and the UK), Asia and in the U.S., and supports a network of more than 65 partners worldwide. Find the latest news concerning Total Immersion projects at: http://augmented-reality-news.com.