A Research Project on Hybrid Experiences

Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror

Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror 1Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror is an app toy aimed mainly at girls. Using an iPad as a “mirror”, user applies virtual makeup with the supplied toy wand. Via augmented reality, the makeup stays on the user’s face even if she moves her head.

Made by Mattel, Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror turns an iPad into an augmented reality mirror. An iOS tablet is first slid into the Bluetooth-ready “vanity frame”. Using an accompanied applicator wand and a special app, downloadable free from App Store, user can then apply “virtual makeup” on her face. Utilizing both the tablet’s front facing camera and augmented reality, the app projects user’s image with the virtual makeup on. Facial-tracking technology is used to keep track of the user’s face, so that the makeup “stays on” even if the user moves her head. The user picks a color from the mirror stand, and there are a couple of dozen shades to choose from. The makeup can be applied to eyes, cheeks, and lips, and also removed selectively. Specific makeups can be saved for later and customized with virtual stickers etc., while there is also a variety of ready-to-wear looks to choose from.

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Romo The Robot

Romo 2Romo is a small robot that moves on tank treads and uses an iPhone for a face. Developed by Romotive as a result of a Kickstarter campaign, Romo includes a host of features, such as the ability to track a face, missions, and a programming lab.

Romo is assembled by attaching an iPhone or an iPod Touch to a small robotic base. An accompanied app turns the iDevice into Romo’s funny face. The face has a variety of expressions and emotional states, and by utilizing the front facing iOS camera Romo’s eyes can seemingly track objects adding life-like behavior to the robot. Romo moves around via tank like treads and can also tilt its “head”, the iDevice, to better look up and down. The face can be touched for a host of reactions, including tickling. Besides the AI controlled behavior, Romo can be remote controlled with an additional iDevice.

Romo comes with training missions to help use it in more varied ways. Completing missions unlocks advanced features: for example, Romo can learn to follow other objects and track both faces and paths marked on the floor. It can record and transmit anything it sees to another iOS device, thus allowing users to chat through it. The unlocked behaviors can be programmed in a free roam Lab mode to create unique behaviors.

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Gigo Future Car

Gigo Future Car 1Gigo Future Car is a remote controlled, constructible toy car that utilizes AR technology to create a virtual city for the car to navigate in. The user builds the car from LEGO-like building blocks and uses a smart device to control its movements and set-up AR routes.

Gigo Future Car by Future Toy Taiwan is a combination of forward thinking toy templates. First, the car comes unassembled and is built from LEGO-like building blocks, actually giving the user eight different construction possibilities. Besides a car, the blocks can be used to build motor bikes, planes, hovercrafts and helicopters (though none of the latter are actually able to fly). The vehicles are powered by a small motor and sensors that detect remote control commands.

Second, users are able to download a free app to control the car, while the tablet can be used as AR lens in conjunction with the toy. The car comes with AR markers that can be used to mark generic buildings and famous landmarks such as Eiffel tower. Cards laying on the ground create a virtual AR city that can be then navigated. The car can be programmed to follow various behaviors and can even navigate the AR city by itself.  

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Foam Fighters

Foam Fighters 2An appcessory game from WowWee, Foam Fighters utilizes a line of small detailed foam airplanes (free to be flown on their own) that attach to the smart device to allow the user to “fly” the plane in simulated situations on the screen.

In Foam Fighters players take to the skies with foamy WWII fighter planes. Developed as a part of WowWee’s AppGear line of appcessory game-toys, Foam Fighters utilize a method of attaching the model foam airplane to the smart device via a suction-cup mounting arm. The app, available free for iOS and Android, then recognizes the plane through the back camera of the smart device.  When viewed through the device screen, the attached plane can be seen flying, fighting and taking digital damage.

The physical game box includes two fighters, two fold-out stands and one suction-cup mounting arm. Each plane unlocks a different campaign based on historical battles (Battle of the Pacific, Battle of Britain and Battle of Europe) and players can choose either Axis or Allied forces. Missions include dog fights, bombing runs, landing and refueling, and escorting units. Earning points allows players to upgrade the planes with different guns and bombs. The game can also be played in multiplayer mode, including eight players skirmish mode over local wi-fi.

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Elite CommandAR

Elite CommandARIn Elite CommandAR your smartphone is mounted onto a physical toy gun transforming the two into a first-person shooter. As the AR gun is scanned around, players can aim at and shoot the virtual aliens as they appear in the real surroundings.

Similar to Hasbro’s Lazer Tag, WowWee’s Elite CommandAR lets you connect your Apple iPhone or iPod or Android phone to a physical toy gun and play against real-world or digital “enemies” simultaneously. Your Apple or Android device acts as your “screen,” through which, utilizing the built-in camera, you can view both your real-life surroundings and digital elements, software generated aliens, superimposed on those surroundings. The game controls use a first-person viewpoint with pan and tilt functions. Users aim the pistol and pull its trigger to shoot enemies and targets in the game. Secondary pistol buttons can be used to raise shield, change weapons, select special weapons and reload. Game modes include Campaign (undertake a mission to save Earth), Training (hone your skills on the shooting range) and AR Battle (battle digital enemies invading your living room). The game also includes 2-player co-op mode where the campaign can be completed together.

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iHelicopters remote controlled insects

iHelicopter insects 1iPhone-Controlled Beetle and iPhone-Controlled Bug are robotic insects, remote-controlled through an iPhone app. The 7,5 cm long mini-robots roam around on six legs looking deceptively like real crawling (rather large) insects.

iHelicopters continues their line of iDevice controlled robots (iHelicopter, iUFO, iSpyTank) with insects. There are two insects to choose from: the Beetle (pictured) and the cockroach-like Bug. Measuring roughly 7,5 cm long and wide, and little less than 3 cm tall when including the legs, the bugs could really fool a human being with their lifelike movements, legs moving rapidly back and forth. Still, while the manufacturer is called iHelicopters, neither of the bugs can fly. Both insects feature up to 6 meter control range via infrared transmitter and are charged via USB. Operating times are estimated at 20 minutes with one charge.

To get going, the users also need to install the free i-Robot app (on any Apple smart device). The iPhone-Controlled Beetle and iPhone-Controlled Bug are $39.95 each, and available in the Insects section of iHelicopters.net.

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Monsterology 2Monsterology, based on a series of childrens books, is a hybrid card game where players press different monster cards on to an iPad and watch them come alive as 3D depictions of themselves. These in-app monsters are then used to battle other players.

Developed by Nukotoys, Monsterology iPad app is a free strategy game where players use various monsters to fight each other. A card depicting a monster – sold in blind bags of three or seven – is pressed on to the iPad after which the monster comes alive within the 3D game world. (The game most likely uses capacitive ink on the cards in order to let the iPad recognize them.) Unlike Pokemon cards for example, the cards themselves cannot be used for battling.

The battles take place in playing fields that resemble the ones found in the Monsterology books and revolve around capturing points on the map that are used to spawn creatures. Each creature will gain different attack abilities as they gain experience and level up. Other weapons, such as catapults, can be used to deal extra damage. The visual style of the game is based on the artwork in the books themselves, with the battlefields resembling pop-up book pages with watercolor stylings.