At its best, augmented reality can promise a heads-up display for your entire life. But all too often, the overlay it creates adds little but pain and confusion. That was fully what I expected from Disney's foray into augmented reality toys when I first heard about them. Aimed at a young audience, the toys are built by licensee Jakks, and the first descriptions sounded abysmal: who wants to stare at a toy while watching somebody else — even a Disney character — play with it? After seeing the first versions, I'm not exactly reassured, but I've upgraded my opinion: the idea has promise, but it's not there yet.
The technology that powers Disney's new toys is called DreamPlay, built in a partnership between Jakks and NantWorks, a company founded by the richest man in Los Angeles.