Friday, February 17, 2012

Mattel's Apptivity: iPad as Toy Launching Pad

It's no secret that youngsters are attracted to the touch-screen ease of iPads. They're playing games (not just Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja), and visiting brand Web sites, at the very least.

Mattel has a new and intriguing idea for marrying the world of branded toys with the world of touch-screen tablets: Apptivity toys. The combo of a physical toy (a car or branded character) paired with an iPad app is intended to engage kids and build on their fascination with the toys and the iPad.
For example, kids can use the special Apptivity Hot Wheels car (shown above) to race on an iPad "race track," winning points and becoming a hot-shot driver. The electronic touchpoints on the car communicate with the iPad screen, so the app (free from iTunes) knows what you're doing with the car as you steer it left or right, avoiding obstacles and picking up speed. (See the news video from this week's Toy Fair, where new toys are introduced, for hands-on demos.)

If you're a Fruit Ninja fan, use the Apptivity ninja character to go after your opponent on the iPad screen. Same with Angry Birds. And on and on. The possibilities for pairing a branded toy with an iPad app open new opportunities for extending play to the digital realm. But will parents buy the toys and lend their iPads to their youngsters?

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