Augmented reality has many incredible uses. One of its many applications lies in the toy industry. More and more toymakers have been developing AR toys lately. We’re not talking about video games such as Pokémon Go. We’re talking about gameplay that bridges tangible toys with virtual play. So, what does this mean for the toy industry?
Is augmented reality its next big thing?
Let’s find out.
How Augmented Reality Toys Work
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality doesn’t fully immerse its users in a digital environment. It adds computer-generated elements in a real-world setting. This is exactly why it’s perfect for the toy industry. Instead of a headset, kids need a phone or a tablet. They also most likely need an app. Using the camera on their mobile device, they can bring their toys to life.
Merging physical and virtual play enables toymakers to stimulate kids’ creativity without getting them too hooked on screens. Moreover, kids can have something to play with. Similar to regular toys, AR games are meant to enhance children’s engagement with the world.
Augmented Reality Toys
AR toys exist. Although they aren’t as widespread as you might’ve hoped, they are here. They are readily available to families.
For decades, Lego has been fueling the creativity and personal development of kids of all ages. In recent years, they’ve also been experimenting with digital technologies. They’ve been combining physical with digital play. Take Lego’s Hidden Side playsets for example.
Armed with a free app (available for both Android and iOS) and a mobile device, kids can bring their minifigures to life. Scanning the playsets using any mobile device will reveal supernatural mysteries. The app has a multiplayer mode, ideal for groups of friends. One player can be a hunter, while up to three friends can be ghosts.
Hidden Side is not Lego’s first AR venture. However, it is their first playset that merges the virtual and real-life play.
Another leading toymaker that’s embracing AR is Hasbro. They made an Iron Man mask with AR experiences, allowing kids to take role play to a whole new level. They will need to download the Hero Vision app. Furthermore, they will need a device that’s compatible with AR goggles to access the game.
Augmented Reality Is Here
AR toys aren’t a fad. They are here to stay. When new hardware gets created, toymakers will gain fun, exciting ways to encourage freer playtime. For example, if Apple’s AR glasses succeed, consumers won’t have to hold up a phone in the future. They can have the same fun experiences without having to hold up a mobile device the entire time.
Given that the technology is still young, we can expect new waves of AR toys to enter the market in the foreseeable future. Over the years, these apps will become increasingly multi-modal. Perhaps they might even have features and functionalities beyond AR.