HYBRIDEX

A Research Project on Hybrid Experiences


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LeapReader and the Tag pen

LeapReaderLeapReader books are interactive books for children that ”come alive” via special Tag pen. By touching words and pictures the pen reads them aloud and helps to pronounce them. Users can also download more content into the pen via USB online connection.

LeapFrog’s LeapReader series of childrens books spans over 100 titles ranging from classic tales to new Disney content to anatomy books. By buying the separate Tag pen these titles turn to interactive books. In storybooks characters and objects on the page can be touched to play out comments and sound effects. By touching specific letters, words and sentences the pen reads them aloud and can also spell them slowly to help in pronunciation. There are also special one-time-use pages with pressure sensitive paper which can be used to train writing letters (the pen does not actually draw). Here, the pen guides children step by step, i.e. instructing “now draw the middle line of the H that is marked by blue color.”

The pen features stereo speakers and a headphone jack. There is also internal memory to store stories, audio books and songs. The pen is plugged into a computer via USB to recharge the pen and to download new content. Parents can also follow the child’s progress through an online service and download for example new apps and printables for the title.

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Ubooly

Ubooly 1

Ubooly is a plush creature that comes alive when you place an iDevice inside of it. Ubooly can then tell jokes and stories, make conversation, even recognizing users’ pitch. Ubooly can also be customized to teach children math and science.    

Launched through a Kickstarter campaign, Ubooly is a “slip-in” hybrid toy, aimed mostly at kids. Users first buy the Ubooly plushie and then download the free app. The interactive face of Ubooly can be customized and it talks back when spoken to. Similar to Furby, two Uboolies can recognize each other and have conversation.

The toy is also a service, as Ubooly downloads interactive content every month over wifi, including games, stories, and adventures. The initial download includes over four hours of content and the company estimates that there will be roughly half an hour worth of extra content per month. Content packs are available as in-app purchases.

In Ubooly Lab parents can customize Ubooly to teach their child new languages, math, and ocean biology, among other things. After this Ubooly’s data can be accessed to see how the kids are progressing. Other features include Ubooly walking kids through teeth brushing, i.e. making the two minute brushing session more engaging via a song or a story, changing it each time to keep it fresh.