Wednesday, 25 January 2012

News: Whatever you do, keep the packaging!

I was supposed to have been at the UK Toy Fair this week. I've had the badge stuck on the kitchen noticeboard since December. I've spent the last few weeks marking the little map with all the places I wanted to ensure I visited while I was there.

Well in the end I couldn't go. Logistics prevented it, which... well, never mind. Always next year!

There's been a whole bunch of news coming out of the show about new toys destined for toy shops this year. I haven't posted any of it here since I didn't learn any of it first hand. However, I thought the following was kind of cool and worth a mention, especially since I've done a load of ThunderCats reviews recently...


-  Kids able to play with toys without opening the box -

From today children can play with toys before even opening the box as new technology will allow them to see fully formed 3D models from the box packaging, allowing them to examine every part of the toy before purchase.

The innovative technology pioneered by manufacturer Bandai, is set to transform the way consumers view toys as they can use a smartphone to view the 3D virtual models from the packaging anywhere in the world.

Selected toys including the brand new ThunderCats action figure of Lion-O, will showcase the technology as fans will be able to see a lifelike model of the toy projected from the box, simply from using a smartphone directed at the toy packaging.

Bandai has become the first toy company to work with Aurasma bringing their toy boxes to virtual life with the augmented reality app, meaning consumers can use the technology, whenever and wherever, not just in a toy shop. The new 3D engine will be showcased at London Toy Fair in Olympia today using Lion-O from ThunderCats and Ben 10 action figures. Users just point the camera of their mobile device at the boxes and using the app, a 3D augmented reality figure of the toy inside magically appears on top of the box.

Consumers will also be able to watch the corresponding toy TV commercials for Power Rangers, Ben 10, the highly anticipated ThunderCats range, and Harumika, a fashion design product for girls by pointing their smartphone at the toy packaging using the Aurasma app.

Marketing Director at Bandai, Darrell Jones comments, “The toy industry is always looking for new ways to excite customers so we are thrilled to be the first partner of this pioneering 3D technology creating 21st century window shopping. The fact that consumers can see their toys virtually and also watch them in action in the TV commercial anywhere in the world is a real first for the toy industry, and we look forward to extending the partnership across all our toys in 2012.”

“Parents will now have to remember not to throw away the packaging which, thanks to Aurasma, looks set to become an essential part of the toy’s experience and something kids keep returning to,” said Martina King, Managing Director of Aurasma. Martina continued, “Using new technology comes as second nature to kids today and whether using their parents’ or their own mobile phone, this imaginative partnership between Aurasma and Bandai will delight the whole family. And best of all, because Aurasma is free to download, it means that now pocket money can be stretched just that little bit further.”

Aurasma’s cutting-edge image recognition technology allows smart devices to see, recognise and understand real-life images and objects in much the same way as the human brain does. Aurasma then uses this fundamental understanding of the real world to seamlessly augment the scene with virtual content such as videos, animations and 3D objects called “auras”. No barcodes, visual tags or special glasses are required for Aurasma to work.


I watched the video and thought, 'wow, that's pretty cool,' but very quickly added a 'but kind of pointless' to the end. Having watched the video again, however, I think it's more useful than I initially thought. For Lion-O, shown in the video, not so much since he's in window packaging and you can see exactly what you're getting. But for something that comes in a closed box, like the Thundertank, this would allow you to see, in 3D, exactly what you're buying while you're stood in the shop.

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