Since tablets and smartphone really became popular, we've seen a lot of attempts at kid-friendly tablets. It makes sense. When people are spending hundreds of dollars on the latest gadgets, they don't exactly want to hand it right over to their two-year-old to play with. Still, spending even more money, just so the kid can have their own touchscreen tablet isn't the answer most people are looking for.
Fisher-Price has come up with another solution. The company is using sturdy cases and specialized apps to turn your every day gadget into a tough, child-friendly toy. The first example is a reader that incorporates the iPod touch. Dubbed the Laugh & Learn Apptivity Storybook, it's a stylized dock. Parents run any one of six special apps for interactive nursery rhyme fun. Kids can interact with the pictures to make them move, and the app reads the rhymes aloud as well as showing read-along wording on the screen.
The next device we saw was a case called the Create & Learn Case for iPad. It works with iPad 2 and above and is available in pink or blue. Using a special app, kids can practice their letters, color, and paint by numbers. However, our favorite thing about this device was that it used the iPad's camera for an augmented reality-style feature. Mom or dad takes a special card and places it behind the iPad, in view of the camera. Their son or daughter can then interact with the card on screen. Tapping the card on screen brings an animated version of the card to life. The demo we saw involved a 'H is for helicopter' card and an adorable little cartoon helicopter that buzzed around the screen when poked and prodded.
Lastly, we saw two docking stations that use the iPad to create little virtual worlds for kids to explore. The first is a barnyard complete with companion characters including animals and tractors. Kids can make tracks in the mucky barnyard using the tractor, wash down the animals in the barn, and tend to their seeds in the fields. The second docking station is for older kids and is a castle. Kids use the various characters to explore the castle, click on interactive objects, ride dragons, and even practice their target shooting with the aid of the iPad's camera.
The Laugh & Learn Apptivity Storybook is selling for $20, while the other products go up to $50 and are set for a fall release.