One of the more – ahem – controversial moments of the Sony E3 2012 conference was the unveiling of their new product, Wonderbook. Certainly not a bad idea in itself, you have to wonder whether the E3 event, with a room full of several thousand jaded game’s journalists and millions of fans streaming the event at home, was the ideal place to launch it. Regardless though, looking beyond the suitability of the venue and the technical niggles that took place on stage, the Wonderbook actually has the potential to be a new way to teach children not only about reading, but to learn in a genuinely new and interesting way.
In effect a book containing large versions of AR cards, Wonderbook works by sitting in front of a PlayStation Eye camera and allowing the book you read to come alive through AR enhancements like magical spells, dinosaurs, dragons and planets that seem to come from the book itself, allowing the ‘reader’ to interact with them primarily using the PS Move.
The first book in the range to be released is set in the Harry Potter Universe and co-written by J.K Rowling herself. Called the Book of Spells, it takes the reader through a series of stories and teaches them how to cast spells using the move controller. Other “books” will be coming later in the series, including educational books and a detective book aimed at slightly older audiences called Dirk Nightcrawler.
J.K. Rowling said, “Wonderbook: Book of Spells is the closest a Muggle can come to a real spellbook. I’ve loved working with Sony’s creative team to bring my spells, and some of the history behind them, to life. This is an extraordinary device that offers a reading experience like no other.
Wonderbook: The Book of Spells will be Released in Europe this November and the US in December. News on other books and prices to follow.