Remember those car track carpets that were so popular a decade or two ago? I never had one, and apparently that means that my parents didn’t love me. They might soon be more outdated than you think though, as Disney is releasing the first products in a series called Disney Appmates; physical toys that work with iPad apps. The first release will be tied to the movie Cars 2, and feature 4 toy cars sold in packs of 2 for $20 per pack. You can then download the app for free, place a car on the iPad screen and it will detect the car and unlock features based on what car it is. The app – which is a game – has an exploration mode and a racing mode, both of which being about driving in-game using the physical toy car. You can knock down stuff as you drive, see the reflection of your car in mirrors you drive past, collect tokens to unlock more features in-game (like headlights) etc. In other words, it’s the ultimate car track carpet.
As for how the technology works, there is no wireless connection or anything involved. Most likely, each wheel is made of a material that has the same electrical properties as capacitive styli, so that placing the car on the screen will make the iPad see the car as 4 individual input points. Distinguishing between the 4 cars is a matter of having a slightly different wheel position on each and have the app recognize the car based on the distance between each 4 input point. Quite simple, but fun nonetheless.[All Things D]