The tech-savvy offspring of geek moms
, Gen Zs are notoriously adept
with their parents’ iPhones and iPads. Some are so accustomed to touchscreen technology that they find its vintage counterparts baffling
. But toymakers are gradually reintroducing sensory play, creating games that combine screen-based and tactile activity and inspiring young Apple-ites to use their hands rather than just their finger pads.
The iPad becomes an interactive play mat when paired with this line of sensor-enabled toys and related apps. Disney has just released
the first AppMATe, a Cars
-themed app equipped with races, games, and scenic roads for aimless discovery. While the app itself is free, the miniature toy cars required for play cost $20 per two-pack. The iPad recognizes each distinct car as a player “drives” it along the screen, triggering unique narratives and unlocking new features for each character. As far as driving apps go, it’s certainly more fun than those available to grown-ups
, and it’s not hard to imagine a multitude of other Disney-themed versions.
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure:
Video game giant Activision
has upped the stakes of portable gaming
with a new line of action figures that hold actual game memory. With these tangible avatars, gamers can upload and play their character no matter where they are, or what console, smartphone, or browser happens to be available. The figures were launched under the new Activision franchise Skylanders
, a fantasy spin-off based on the character Spyro the Dragon. All 32 characters featured in the game have a corresponding toy (retailing for under $10 each). Activision hopes to target young gamers who will use the action figures not just for the virtual plug-in, but also for hands-on play.
LEGO Life of George:
Putting a modern spin on an old-school toy, this new iOS app for iPhone or iPod Touch calls on players to use LEGOs to build real-world replicas of digital images. The complete Life of George kit ($30) includes a set of 144 LEGOs and a play mat that serves as a mini green screen. (The corresponding app
is free.) As players advance, they snap together LEGO models of increasingly complex images. EyeCue
technology determines the accuracy of finished models via webcam, and points are awarded based on speed and precision. LEGO has received acclaim for the game’s seamless integration of digital and physical play. See it in action here