Alongside Sesame Street, the Dr. Seuss universe has been a constant presence in the formative years of several generations of children in the US.
Now, Dr. Seuss's creations are continuing to maintain relevance with today's youth via augmented reality, just as the Sesame Street Yourself app reintroduced its classic characters to children with AR.
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This week, just in time for Dr. Seuss Day, Dr. Seuss Enterprises launched its first augmented reality app, Dr. Seuss's ABC – An Amazing AR Alphabet! (exclamation theirs). The mobile app brings the classic Dr. Seuss's ABC book and its characters, from Aunt Annie's Alligator to Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz, to life in the real world via Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore toolkits.
Available now for $3.99 (less than the price of the hardcover book) on Apple's App Store and on Google Play for ARKit and ARCore-compatible devices, the app was built with Unity using the Mixed and Augmented Reality Studio (Project MARS) extension.
"Dr. Seuss's ABC – An Amazing AR Alphabet! app is an exciting way to ignite young imaginations through interactive play with the creative stories and beloved characters both kids and parents love," said Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, in a statement. "Dr. Seuss Enterprises is committed to offering best-in-class experiences parents and educators can trust and embracing emerging technologies that bring Dr. Seuss's books to life like never before while also creating meaningful storytelling and learning experiences for children."
Developer Sugar Creative implemented several modes to entertain and educate users. The Story Mode presents the alphabet to readers via animated AR content, while the A to Z feature lets users choose a chapter, each narrated by the book's characters, for viewing. Also, while not an AR feature per se, there is an option in settings that supports dyslexic users.
In addition, a Sandbox mode gives users the freedom to play with their chosen characters in AR. Users can add as many characters to their scene as they wish and truly transform their playspace into Seussland.
"Digital media and AR technology can be a powerful tool for supporting young children's learning, so we are looking forward to offering families this new opportunity for interactive play," said Jason Veal, Sugar Creative's Managing Director. "Dr. Seuss's ABC – An Amazing AR Alphabet! App invites kids to create unique and hands-on learning experiences every time they play."
The mechanics of the app are familiar for anyone who has used a mobile AR app that leverages the horizontal surface detection of ARKit or ARCore, with guidance in scanning the environment and manipulating the content. The language used in these guides, including jargon like "marker," might be above a beginner's reading level, but pictograms are there to help AR newbies understand what to do.
While the art of Dr. Seuss books is traditionally 2D, the content in the app is not. Moving around the models in Sandbox mode shows the care taken in imagining what these drawn characters would look in the 3D space.
Dr. Seuss's ABC – An Amazing AR Alphabet! adds another classic title to the library of available AR retellings of children's tales. Previously, the Bookful app tackled The Tale of Peter Rabbit, while Wonderscope adapted Little Red Riding Hood. Also, Facebook's Portal hardware lineup offers a rendition of Little Red Riding Hood along with Goldilocks and the Three Bears via its AR-enhanced Story Time app.
Considering the reputation augmented reality has earned as a new storytelling medium, the current generation of young readers will be just as familiar with the technology as they are with the classic characters that their parents once read about on paper.