The Future of Entertainment series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs is highlighting the latest in entertainment innovation. Over the course of 10 weeks at iq.intel.com, we are showcasing new products, services and technologies, exploring the changing face of how we consume, share and create content and getting reactions from Intel experts.
The Future of Entertainment series is turning to toys this week, investigating a trend we identified as Cross World Play. Playthings for kids are becoming more sophisticated and integrated with technology to provide simultaneously digital and tactile experiences that will keep next generation of kids engaged. With their shorter attention spans and propensity to sit in front of a screen for hours, toy developers have had to create new ways to capture the minds of today’s youth. Cross World Play is part of the larger theme, Inside the Story, which sees immersive entertainment platforms popping up that let consumers – young and old – have a heightened sensory experiences with their content.
At some point during their childhood, most little girls get caught red-handed, lipstick smeared across their face, mascara precariously applied to their lashes, putting the final touches on their dress-up game with their mother’s expensive makeup. As much as it pains adults to see their little kids grow up, playing with makeup is a rite of passage for many young girls. The latest toy from Mattel at the very least makes that passage a little less messy.
The Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror combines the capabilities of an iPad with many girls desire to make them and their friends over. The mirror is not actually a mirror, but a plastic Barbie-pink vanity, replete with bulbs, and a docking station for an iPad. Parents download an app, and then install it as an interactive ‘mirror’ into the vanity. Kids can dip an accompanying stylus into fake makeup, and ‘apply’ onto themselves. The iPad camera captures the live action, and uses a combination of augmented reality and facial recognition to reflect an image of the child as if they had actually applied makeup to themselves. Motion-sensing technology means that as a child moves their head in the mirror, the cosmetics move along with it. And should there be any mistakes, the child can easily erase the makeup and endlessly reapply different shades of eye shadow or lipstick, without any actual mess. When they are done they can add glitter, stickers and share the photos with friends.
While children could simply use the iPad app without the vanity setup, the real life aspect of the makeup station adds an important element to kids’ play. “Tablet-toy apps are going to be inevitably game-ified, meaning that they’ll be restricted by the app developer’s finite rule set,” writes Matt Packham in a TIME magazine article on the future of toys. He continues, “physical toys have limitations, too, and lack the feedback mechanisms apps bring to the table, but a child’s ability to imagine her or his way out of a given limitation with a physical toy is boundless.” It is maintaining a link to the physical world that is important in the next generation of games. The Mattel Digital Makeover Mirror brings together tangible, tactile play with a virtual world and seamlessly combines the two, enabling children’s imaginations to run wild with infinite possibilities. It takes a traditional toy and elevates the experience using existing technology that kids already know how to interact with, because they have grown up with it.
Check in tomorrow, as PSFK and iQ continue to explore the interaction between the physical and the digital in children’s toys, when we examine Disney’s open world game, Disney Infinity.
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