A Research Project on Hybrid Experiences

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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.

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Disney DreamPlay

Disney DreamPlay app toys 1DreamPlay is an AR game product that works via an app downloaded to Apple devices. With the app open, players can point their device’s camera at a DreamPlay toy to trigger animations and other alternate reality interactions involving Disney characters.

DreamPlay toys are augmented reality products, made by Jakks Pacific, that use patented 2D and 3D recognition technologies to instantly recognize a toy, while adding moving characters to it, thus allowing interaction and play with the AR objects. The toys incorporate iD image recognition technology, which recognizes images, 3D objects, voice, speech, data, live video and more, with the capability to differentiate between millions of objects at once. This allows kids to use a physical toy to play iOS/Android app games and view animations using a tablet or smartphone. The content is focused on Disney franchises, such as The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan.

DreamPlay works via the cloud, with images and interactions stored on a remote server and streamed to mobile devices when the app is opened and the camera is pointed at the toys. The patented technology has also removed the need for any type of QR code. Jakks will also produce DreamPlay Toys based on other brands such as Monsuno.

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Furby (2012 Edition)

ImageFurby is a furry, talking and moving electronic doll that answers to a host of voice commands. The 2012 edition introduces new features such as the ability to feed Furby by “flicking” different edibles towards it from an iDevice.  

The original Furby was equipped with robotic eyes and ears, simple sensors and the ability to speak. While already the 2005 Emtro-Tronic Furbies introduced increased facial emotions and voice recognition, the 2012 Furby takes the design even further by making Furby’s body more active, with the ability to wiggle its ears and dance. The classic white eyes have been replaced with LCDs widening Furby’s range of emotions and giving it a host of playful “eye graphics”. Like the first generation, Furby 2.0 has the ability to communicate with other Furbys. When Furby speaks and another one is nearby, it can discern the “Furbish” language and respond. It can also respond to human voices, and even pick up on tone.

The free Furby iOS app offers up a translator that will listen to its speech and offer its English equivalent. The app also features a dictionary and meals for Furby, which are served up by flicking them in its general direction. Unlike a Tamagotchi, Furby won’t die if you don’t feed it — though it may get cranky.