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Jakks Pacific in joint venture with tech firm for new toy line

July 25, 2012|By Shan Li
  • Shoppers browse for toys from Jakks Pacific, which will roll out a set of high-tech toys connected to an app.
Shoppers browse for toys from Jakks Pacific, which will roll out a set of… (Bryan Chan / Los Angeles…)

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Toymaker Jakks Pacific is joining forces with Los Angeles tech firm Nantworks to develop and sell a new line of toys tied to smart devices.

The toy collection will incorporate a free app designed by Nantworks that uses image-recognition technology to recognize objects and trigger photos, animations and other data to pop up on a smartphone or tablet computer.

For example, a smartphone with the app open can be pointed to a costume tiara —  and on the phone's screen, hair could be programmed to digitally grow from the crown, said Stephen Berman, Jakks' chief executive. Or the same phone pointed at a kids' table can show a virtual castle growing out of the tabletop.

"With this, you can point your smart device at a specific toy and the whole environment around the toy can come alive," Berman said. "Children will be able to activate toys and interact with them with an iPad."

Berman also said that Jakks is working with retail partners to use the app to offer discounts in stores. Parents will eventually be able to point their phones at toys on shelves and pull up coupons or other information, he said.

Malibu-based Jakks is planning to show examples of the upcoming collection at the International Toy Fair in October. They will hit stores in the second half of 2013.

Berman said the high-tech line will include plush toys, action figures, furniture, costumes and other toy categories.

For the record, 12:36 p.m. July 25: A previous version of this post stated that Jakks is working with Toys R Us to incorporate the app to offer discounts in stores. Jakks has not yet confirmed a partnership with any retailers.

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