KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Online toy shopping is getting increasingly creative, as digital reality tools rise in popularity among retailers and consumers. Walmart and Mattel are now leasing “floors” at the BuzzFeed-produced interactive video experience KidHQ, a virtual reality store that allows users to browse products via choose-your-own-adventure-style videos. Both companies are looking ahead to the holiday season as they try to sell toys ranging from Barbies to “Frozen 2” merchandise, and are using interactive video to connect with consumers to do so. 

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X2 Games Integrates Alexa to Update Board Game Format

X2 Games released “St. Noire,” an AI murder mystery board game that integrates Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. “St. Noire” ($40 on Amazon) lets players become private eyes and explore the eponymous, shady town to determine the culprit in a recent murder. Players ask Alexa to “examine” locations such as Black Saint Bar or Greasy Spoon, or to pretend to be a suspect during interrogation. The game, which requires the use of Alexa, is similar to the board game “Clue” in that it evolves by the process of elimination to determine the specifics of each crime. Continue reading X2 Games Integrates Alexa to Update Board Game Format

Game Execs on Real-Time Engines for Film & TV Production

Over 150 million people are playing video games in the U.S., according to the Entertainment Software Association, and by mid-2018, games brought in more revenue than movies and music combined. So it’s no surprise that there is an increasing amount of cross-pollination between games and movies. At NAB 2019, 30 Ninjas partner Lewis Smithingham moderated a conversation among a group of game executives on the evolution of game engines and how they are becoming a more common tool for today’s film and television production. Continue reading Game Execs on Real-Time Engines for Film & TV Production

Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

Toy maker Mattel just opened a new division, Mattel Films, to develop and produce movies based on its brands and headed up by Academy Award-nominated producer Robbie Brenner. Known for her work on “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Mirror Mirror” and “The Fighter,” Brenner will report directly to Mattel chief executive/chair Ynon Kreiz, a media and entertainment veteran, who has worked on children’s content. The new division could help bolster Mattel, which has seen slumping sales since the shuttering of Toys R Us. Continue reading Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

SuperAwesome Rolls Out Kid-Safe Embeddable Video Player

Kid-safe technology startup SuperAwesome is introducing an alternative to YouTube’s embedded video player intended for publishers of children’s content. The new offering — which joins the SuperAwesome platform of “kidtech” tools created for areas such as advertising, authentication, parental controls and social engagement — provides brands with a viable video player alternative as privacy issues dominate the spotlight. According to the company, the player does not collect data on kids and adheres to COPPA and GDPR. Continue reading SuperAwesome Rolls Out Kid-Safe Embeddable Video Player

OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

The technology underlying Bitcoin is now under development to render 3D visual effects. Los Angeles-based OTOY, which provides a GPU-based software system to create a cloud-based pipeline for 3D content, is hoping to raise as much as $134 million to develop RNDR, distributed cloud rendering for VR and other content, via blockchain technology. HBO and Discovery have invested in OTOY, which has also partnered with Facebook and Mattel. Relying on cloud-based GPUs for rendering is a much less expensive solution than supercomputers. Continue reading OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

NAB 2017: Unreal Engine Promotes its Partner Collaborations

Epic’s Unreal Engine is best known as a game engine, but general manager Marc Petit introduced the company’s enterprise division, which focuses on everything but games. This was Unreal Engine’s first-ever NAB, but for Petit, who worked many years at Softimage and attended numerous NABs, the meeting of the digital image and the game engine was more than symbolic. He used the press conference to showcase the work of several media and entertainment partners, including VizRT, The Future Group, House of Moves and Ross Video. Continue reading NAB 2017: Unreal Engine Promotes its Partner Collaborations

Microsoft Offers Lawsuit Protection for Azure Cloud Customers

Microsoft debuted Microsoft Azure IP Advantage, which provides payment for legal costs to customers using the open-source technology that is part of Azure services, including Hadoop data analysis. The rationale behind this new Advantage program is that, by offering Azure customers protection from intellectual property litigation, Microsoft removes an obstacle to the cloud computing service’s growth. This litigation protection service is already in place for Azure customers developing apps with Microsoft technology. Continue reading Microsoft Offers Lawsuit Protection for Azure Cloud Customers

ToyTalk and Mattel Release Interactive Thomas the Tank App

San Francisco-based kids’ entertainment startup ToyTalk, founded by former Pixar execs, just debuted its first product, an eight-episode app that lets children chat with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends as they go on different adventures. The app is the result of ToyTalk’s new partnership with Mattel, which owns the Thomas the Tank Engine franchise. The interactive app, which takes advantage of kids’ familiarity in speaking with virtual entities, debuts just as Thomas the Tank Engine celebrates its 70th anniversary. Continue reading ToyTalk and Mattel Release Interactive Thomas the Tank App

Hello Barbie: Mattel’s Web-Connected Doll Interacts with Kids

Mattel plans to release Hello Barbie, a Wi-Fi connected doll with voice recognition software that allows users to engage in basic conversations with the doll. The tech enabled Barbie, which will be available later this fall for $74.99, is connected to the cloud so that once it records a user’s dialogue, it transmits the information to a server, which then aggregates appropriate responses for the doll. Hello Barbie’s voice recognition software comes from San Francisco startup ToyTalk. Continue reading Hello Barbie: Mattel’s Web-Connected Doll Interacts with Kids

Mattel Teams with Google to Resurrect the Iconic View-Master

Mattel has announced a partnership with Google to revive the toymaker’s iconic View-Master device. In place of cardboard discs with stereoscopic images, the updated toy will incorporate the View-Master app on a user’s mobile phone and deliver a true virtual reality experience. The technology used for the View-Master is identical to that which powers Google Cardboard, and like Cardboard, the View-Master was designed to make VR affordable. The View-Master will retail for $30 and be available later this year. Continue reading Mattel Teams with Google to Resurrect the Iconic View-Master

Toymaker Hasbro in Talks to Purchase DreamWorks Animation

Rhode Island-based Hasbro, manufacturer of popular toys including G.I. Joe, Mr. Potato Head, My Little Pony and Transformers, is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation. Hasbro would pay a mix of cash and stock according to current terms of the proposed deal. DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is said to be looking for more than $30 a share for the sale. The news comes shortly after Japanese telecom SoftBank was reported to be a prospective buyer. Continue reading Toymaker Hasbro in Talks to Purchase DreamWorks Animation

Amazon to Sell Kid’s Show and Merchandise via Content Hub

Amazon and Hit Entertainment have teamed up to offer a “content hub,” which will allow preschoolers to watch episodes of a new children’s television show, “Fireman Sam,” alongside ads for related merchandise, such as toys and apparel. “Fireman Sam” episodes will be available exclusively on Amazon, starting with the first 13 episodes released yesterday. The content hub raises questions about children’s advertising, which is usually subject to regulation when it appears on TV. Continue reading Amazon to Sell Kid’s Show and Merchandise via Content Hub

Industries Find 3D Printing Technology Fast and Efficient

Companies such as General Electric, Ford and Mattel are increasingly turning to 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, in order to help deliver products to customers more quickly. Unlike traditional manufacturing techniques, that typically involve cutting or drilling from molds, 3D printing enables a more efficient means of modeling an object on a computer and then printing it with plastic, metal or composite materials. Continue reading Industries Find 3D Printing Technology Fast and Efficient