Last Updated Apr 22, 2010 4:11 PM EDT
Metaio has been working hard for 18 months on an augmented-reality (AR) "digital box" for Lego, the Danish toy manufacturer. After being tested in a few locations, the product is now hitting Lego retail stores worldwide, and with it, consumers get a 3D image of what the toy will look like once assembled.
The idea is to hold up a box of Lego to a kiosk that consists of a webcam, a screen, and Metaio's AR technology. Combining 3D animation with a live video feed, the assembled toy is projected on screen on top of the box the consumer is holding. It is then possible to view the finished toy on screen from all angles.Like many companies built on a foundation of legacy technology, Lego walks the tightrope between being weighed down by a classic product and alienating loyal customers with too much radical change.
This move is smart for so many reasons:
- Lego stays true to its roots: Unlike Best Buy doing movie downloads or the Amazon Kindle suddenly having apps, a building visualizer actually is within the context of what made Lego successful in the first place.
- AR brings the technorati into the fold: Augmented Reality gives tech fiends a new reason to look at Legos.
- The upgrade doesn't eliminate the past: The basic blocks and the augmented reality versions peacefully coexist.
- It is a natural progression: Lego has licensed its name for a series of extremely successful video games, prepping audiences for the augmented reality products.