Update on Augmented Reality Toys

Suwappu augmented reality toys

Here’s an update from Dentsu, the London-based creative agency who debuted their collection of swappable character augmented reality toys, Suwappu, last April. While the blocky, minimalist characters could find fandom as is amongst designer toy collectors, Dentsu is following through with their intent to push through into augmented reality.

Here’s how it works via Fast Company’s Co.Design:

You set the cute, blocky toy characters on a tabletop surface and point your smartphone at them with the Suwappu app activated. The app uses the phone’s camera to display onscreen a real-time holographic 3-D world around them, complete with little word bubbles from the toys themselves.

Suwappu augmented reality toys

Co.Design writer, John Pavlus is not impressed:

Call me a churl, but Suwappu just doesn’t look like much fun to me. It essentially replaces a kid’s own limitless inner play-universe with canned narratives coughed up by adults–and worse, the whole thing has to be “experienced” through the tiny keyhole of Mom or Dad’s smartphone camera.

I’m not ready to agree or disagree yet. When it comes to augmented reality toys, I’m keen to give Dentsu some more time. My inclination, though, is that the actual, 3-dimensional Suwappu toys are a better source for children’s creative play than an augmented reality iPhone app. Kids will love swapping the bodies to create mythical creatures and their own imaginative worlds. When Pavlus calls it a “haute design techno-tchotchke meant to impress the kidults at your next loft party” and “more geared toward Kidrobot connoisseurs than actual kids,” I suspect that this may be Suwappu’s non-augmented reality.

In related news: it looks like Suwappu’s stars BadgerFoxDeer and Tuna have not tweeted since May.