You knew it was coming -- it was only a question of time. Yes, virtual reality is coming to consumer products -- the toy industry has discovered virtual reality and immersive technologyes.
If you have not seen AVATAR in the theater yet, you need to make a date to go see it very soon. I saw it yesterday and it is absolutely fabulous. All graphic designers, illustrators and visual talents should try to pay particular attention to the staging, backgrounds and set details -- it is truly a milestone in motion picture production. I'm planning to see it again soon, so I can concentrate more on fit and finish than action.
Now Mattel has launched a new line of action figures based on this epic action-adventure film, "Avatar", that incorporates augmented reality technology, marking the first time this technology will ever appear in a retail toy product.
The toy line, developed in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Licensing features heroes, creatures and vehicles straight from James Cameron's much-anticipated film, which is set for sales in December 2009.
Each action figure, vehicle and creature in the product line will come with a 3-D web tag, called an i-TAG, which consumers can "scan" using a home computer's webcam. Scanning the i-TAG will reveal special content onscreen unique to the corresponding product. Exact content varies for each item, but could include biographical information, additional images and animated models of the figures. When the i-TAG for deluxe figures, vehicles or creatures are placed under a webcam, animated 3-D models will "come alive" through engaging, evading or defending moves. Place two i-TAGs from the "Battle Pack" together and the 3-D images will interact with each other.
"The development of our 'Avatar' toy line with the integration of the augmented reality technology marks an entirely new level of innovation in toys," said Doug Wadleigh, Vice President for Boys Action Play Marketing, Mattel, Inc. "Boys will be able to play with the 'Avatar' figures and vehicles in ways that previously could only be imagined."
Lora Cohn, Vice President, Fox Licensing added, "This is going to be a ground-breaking moment for both film and toy with the introduction of one the most innovative 3-D experiences ever conceived. Mattel has created the perfect complement to a film that is going to wow audiences the world over with its bold new vision."
The i-TAG technology was developed by Total Immersion, the global leader in augmented reality. Total Immersion's patented augmented reality technology integrates real time interactive 3-D graphics into live video. Once the object is recognized by the webcam, the product comes to life on screen.
"Augmented reality is a software solution that has significantly gained momentum and popularity with advertisers, retailers and marketers over the past several years because of its unique ability to engage consumers in their experience with a brand," said Bruno Uzzan, CEO and co-founder, Total Immersion. "The launch of Mattel's 'Avatar' toy line is truly groundbreaking, as this marks the first time augmented reality has been featured in a mainstream consumer product line."
The Mattel line of "Avatar" action figures, creatures and vehicles will be available at retail stores nationwide in October 2009.
About "Avatar" The director of Titanic takes us to a spectacular new world beyond our imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on a journey of redemption, discovery and unexpected love -- as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization in this epic action adventure fantasy. Conceived 14 years ago and over four years in the making, "Avatar" breaks new ground in delivering a fully immersive, emotional story and reinvents the movie going experience.
The "Avatar" cast includes Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver. Academy Award-winning visual effects house, WETA Digital, renowned for its work in "The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy and "King Kong," will incorporate new intuitive CGI technologies to transform the environments and characters into photorealistic 3D imagery that will transport the audience into a world beyond imagination.
About Total Immersion
Total Immersion is the global leader in augmented reality. Through its patented D'FusionT technology, Total Immersion blurs the line between the virtual world and the real world by integrating real time interactive 3D graphics into a live video stream. Leading the augmented reality category since 1999, the company maintains a presence in Europe and the U.S., and supports a network of partners worldwide.
About Mattel, Inc.
Mattel, Inc., (NYSE: MAT, www.mattel.com) is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of toys and family products. The Mattel family is comprised of such best-selling brands as BarbieR, the most popular fashion doll ever introduced, Hot WheelsR, MatchboxR, American GirlR, Radica:R and TycoR R/C, as well as Fisher-PriceR brands, including Little PeopleR, Power WheelsR and a wide array of entertainment-inspired toy lines. Mattel is recognized as one of 2009's "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE Magazine. With worldwide headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., Mattel employs approximately 30,000 people in 43 countries and territories and sells products in more than 150 nations. Mattel's vision is to be the world's premier toy brands-today and tomorrow.
About Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising -- A recognized industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Twentieth Television and Fox Broadcasting Company, as well as third party lines. The division is aligned with Twentieth Century Fox Television, one of the top suppliers of primetime entertainment programming to the broadcast networks.