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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Polaroid Socialmatic Camera

Polaroid SocialmaticPolaroid Socialmatic camera takes digital photographs that the user can quick-edit on the camera screen, post on different social media platforms via a Wi-Fi connection and print as physical copies straight from the camera.

Still waiting to be released, Polaroid’s Socialmatic camera is a 14-megapixel digital camera that comes equipped with an Android based operating system. The camera lets users take digital photographs that can be touched upon already on the camera’s 4.5-inch touchscreen. Users can also post their pictures on different social media platforms straight from the camera via a Wi-Fi connection. Reminiscent of the classic Polaroid cameras, Socialmatic can also print the pictures as physical copies on Zink’s Zero Ink ink-free paper. The size of the printed photos is 2×3” and they are promised to be smudge-proof, water resistant and tear resistant. The pictures are saved on microSD cards, and the camera also features a 2-megapixel rear-facing camera.

Socialmatic camera is due to launch in fall 2014.

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Little Printer

Little Printer is a mini-sized, online connected printer that prints on paper roughly a size of a receipt. It can be used to print black and white pictures, puzzles such as Sudoku, shopping lists, etc. Via the online connection, users can also print messages remotely.

Little Printer holds a compact, inkless, thermal printer. It is constructed in high-gloss injection moulded plastic. Brushed steel faceplate holds the paper, framing each delivery as it prints. The printer features a zero-configuration wireless connection to the Web (via the included Bridge unit) allowing easy placement.

An associated service lets Little Printer users to subscribe to different kinds of content, or “publication”, be it regularly released puzzles, news, how-to’s, pictures etc. Little Printer can also gather a content package together to create a kind of miniature newspaper, delivered at chosen intervals. New content is created regularly. The printer can be controlled remotely with a smart phone, thus allowing users for example to print a message or a shopping list to a spouse at home.

With its pixel-art content and cute-over-efficiency attitude, Little Printer stands as a striking example of materiality and tactility striking back. To value it is to see why a printed love note is better than a text message.