Disney’s Magical Flashlight Brings Kids’ Books To Life. A focus on «lightweight interactivity» makes this prototype feel fun, not overly fussy.

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Maybe being the dad of a toddler makes me overly skeptical of «enhanced» or «augmented» children’s books and toys, but I’m usually unimpressed with efforts to future-ify an experience that seems to work just as fine now as it did when Goodnight Moon was first written 66 years ago. Then I saw HideOut, a new prototype from Disney Research that uses a handheld projector to bring animated characters to life on the surface of a book or board game.

A smartphone-sized handheld projector, surprisingly enough, looks like just the right kind of «extra» to add a bit of genuine magic to the experience of reading stories to your kid. What I love about HideOut is the un-fussiness of this interaction: There’s no app to launch, no requirement of peering at the «augmentations» through the keyhole of a screen. The child can move the projector around and watch what happens to the animated characters without «popping out» of the shared experience of reading together–experiencing the «interactive content in a lightweight and exploratory way,» according to HideOut’s documentation.