Interactive toy signals a first for Microsoft

Microsoft is venturing into the toy market for the first time, launching a cuddly dinosaur that interacts with TV programmes.

Microsoft is venturing into the toy market for the first time,

launching a cuddly dinosaur that interacts with TV programmes.



ActiMates, Microsoft’s new sub-brand, features a range of cuddly toys

which operate on their own or can be used interactively with PCs and

videos.



It will be the first time that interactive technology has been applied

to terrestrial TV programming, rather than a cable or satellite shopping

channel.



The toys are based on Microsoft’s unique animatronic technology, which

has taken two years to develop. The first in the range is Barney the

Dinosaur, based on the popular children’s programme on GMTV, which

Microsoft plans to encode so that the toy will interact with the

programme.



When used with encoded videos and a radio frequency device, the toy uses

a 4000-word vocabulary to comment on what is happening on screen and ask

questions. When used with a PC, it interacts with a CD-ROM using a

14,000-word vocabulary.



The product launches in the UK in July, just as a film featuring Barney

opens. It will be supported by a TV campaign in September, through Euro

RSCG Wnek Gosper, when Microsoft will target young mothers for the first

time.



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