For years, the world-renowned toy maker and theme park operator has captivated the imaginations of children everywhere with its brightly colored plastic building bricks, which were introduced in their present form in 1958. Always on the leading edge, LEGO is also a major player in the rapidly expanding field of Augmented Reality Toys.
LEGO’s first major foray into the Augmented Reality, or “AR”, toy world was the introduction of Fusion in 2013, which brought LEGO’s colorful building blocks to life by combining them with augmented reality technology. The company accurately predicted that Fusion would influence the toys & games market by inspiring young players to be proactively involved with both physical playthings and digital games. Although Lego discontinued Fusion in 2014, the company continues to produce a line AR toys, including LEGO Worlds, which was introduced in 2015.
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality, unlike Virtual Reality is a digital enhancement of the physical world. Examples of AR in everyday life include the moveable yellow line superimposed on the playing field during televised NFL football games. The players, playing field, stands and other physical objects appearing on the screen are all real, but the yellow line marker is a digital enhancement visible only to television or streaming video viewers. The yellow line does not exist in the physical world, and is therefore invisible to fans physically present at the game. Advertisements on stadium and arena walls are also examples of Augmented Reality, since they exist only in the digital world and are invisible to persons who are physically present.
Another example of Augmented Reality is the Pokémon Go phenomenon that swept the world for several months in 2016. Players walk through real world locations and are alerted by their smartphones when there is a Pokémon nearby. The object is to locate and “capture” the most digitally superimposed Pokémon figures.
Virtual Reality, or VR, is sometimes also referred to as computer-simulated reality. VR is a virtual realm where users, usually equipped with a helmet, goggles or similar digital viewing device enter a fabricated world where in some highly sophisticated applications, it is difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is virtual.
The Future of Augmented Reality Toys
Medicine, architecture, design, and military are just a few of the many fields that will benefit greatly from rapidly evolving AR technology. The same is true for Augmented Reality toys and games, where the interactive possibilities are virtually unlimited. The ever-increasing popularity of AR games and toys ensures the industry’s continued growth, since it allows companies to enhance the digital content of a particular toy or game without having to update or redesign the physical toy itself.
Not surprisingly, LEGO continues to be a leader in the development and marketing of Augmented Reality Toys. An example is the introduction of the highly successful interactive Nexo Knight line in 2016. A proven leader in the children’s toy industry for the past several decades, The LEGO Group will continue to be one of the major players in the field of Augmented Reality Toys.