It only took one day at the New York International Toy Fair to note what I thought was the biggest trend in 2012–pairing the iPad and tablets to traditional play whether it was a board game, puzzle or trampoline.
I started at one of my favorite companies, The WonderForge, where in addition to their new creative board games, they introduced apps for the iPad, designed to build preschool learning skills through interactive play. Their “Dr. Seuss AppPlay Games” includes 3 options that use a set of 36 tiles that players manipulate to match attributes, guess through the process of elimination, and comprehend concepts. Kids have to look up from the iPad and interact with other players which encourages conversation and interaction.
JumpSport introduced its iBounce Kid’s Trampoline, which has a bracket to securely hold your tablet between the handle bars so kids can jump and be entertained at the same time with the “Hop-Along Rompy Roo Video” or another of your choice.
Ravensburger took their famous puzzles a step further, with their “augmented reality” feature. After completing the beautiful scenes, look through your iPad or iPhone camera, using a free app from the app store, and your puzzle comes to life. You can change the weather (I saw snow fall) or as a large fish swims by in an ocean scene, you can search for a similar species in the puzzle.
Hasbro’s “The Game of Life zAPPed” sets the iPad right in the middle of the board game, where turns begin with a swipe of the virtual wheel. By the way, I saw others begin to connect the tablets to games in the same way, with clever spinners on the iPad.
Discovery Bay’s new products this year were both Appcessories! “Duo Pop” and “Duo Plink” are accessories which add some technical feature to the free apps that come with the product. Press your popper (which looks like a colorful inhaler upside down) when you make a move on the iPad, or place the Duo Plink on your iPad and players answer questions by placing tokens on the color of their best guess. Plink rotates and drops the winning tokens into the bank–keeping score for you. Several free apps come with your Plink like “What on earth?” or “Artifact of Fiction?” I felt like I was back on the Newlywed Game when I had to guess my husband’s answer to which chair he would like better–a beanbag or recliner? I won’t tell if I got it right.
Game Changer by Identity Games was the most integrated of the iPad-board game products that I saw. Slide your iPad into the cradle, download the app, place the game skins on either side and you are ready to move your game pieces across the board. Right now it comes with 2 games, “Animal Mania” and “The Magic School Bus” but I see the potential to customize your game skins, especially for teachers and therapists to help students in specific academic areas.
Lapiluv, our latest PAL Award winner, was launching it’s double sided entertainment center that straps on an adult, like an apron, to hold traditional toys or your phone or iPad to have some face to face interaction with your baby or toddler. Here’s my full review on how to turn time with technology into an interactive language learning experience.
Clearly companies are inventing new ways to integrate and augment the various iProducts and tablets to enhance play. I look forward to further innovation to provide learning embedded in new products as we go forward.
Game Changer and Lapiluv were provided for review.