Physical Toys Come to the Digital World Via iPhone App

Lego is the latest toy maker to integrate physical toys and the digital world with an interactive iPhone app that takes the Lego experience to the next level.

Lego has introduced a new 12-level game called Life of George ($29.99) that challenges players to build physical Lego versions of a guitar and other objects to test their speed and accuracy. By placing the blocks on a play mat that acts as a “green screen” and using the iPhone's camera to capture the image, players receive a score and then advance to the next level.

Each level — which takes about 20 minutes to play — revolves around a character named George, a fictional software engineer by day who travels the world at night. His storyline also extends to his Facebook page, I Am George, where fans can see updates and photography from his travels. The page will share hints to new game levels and app updates.

As players continue throughout the game, the app unleashes pictures from George's photo album to replicate by using physical Lego bricks. The game can be played alone or against a competitor in a pass-and-play format.

"We've ventured into this area because the company understands that consumers have a powerful connection to casual gaming and the brand translates well to virtual and digital experiences," Michael McNally, director of brand relations for LEGO Systems, told TechNewsDaily. "Life of George is a fun, innovative way for existing and new fans to play with LEGO bricks and interact with the brand."

Lego isn't the first company to get on board with blending physical toys and technology. Last week Disney announced a new gaming line called Disney Appmates, which uses the iPad as a virtual play mat.

Disney's first version of Appmates incorporates characters from the Disney/Pixar film "Cars 2" and features miniature vehicles with sensors on the base of each toy that allow it to interact with visuals on the iPad.

Placing a "Cars" toy character on the screen and turning it in any direction allows kids to uncover new landscapes, drive through mud and visit friends. There is also a game-play function that gives users the opportunity to perform missions to collect virtual currency, so they can personalize each car with features such as a rocket launcher and spy vision. Players can also race around five virtual racetracks.

This story was provided by TechNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Reach TechNewsDaily senior writer Samantha Murphy at smurphy@techmedianetwork.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow her on Twitter @SamMurphy_TMN

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