My 7-year-old figured out how to use Dr. Panda Plus Home Designer pretty quickly. First she used markers to fill in the colors for an object on the card, like a bookcase or couch. Then she would scan the object with the phone or tablet. Within about 20 minutes she was filling three different virtual houses with her creations.
Dr. Panda Plus Home Designer is an easy-to-use augmented reality toy. It is now available through Amazon and Apple Store for around $40.
The toy lets kids see their 2 dimensional drawings become 3 dimensional objects. It includes more than 50 cards with a household object or character on each of them. Kids use the erasable markers to color in the cards. Then they use the Dr. Panda Plus Home Designer and the gadget’s camera to scan the object into the app. The object pops up from the card using AR.
For those unfamiliar, the creator of Plus Home Designer is the same China-based company behind dozens of very popular children’s apps. Each game carries the name Dr. Panda followed by themes like Farm, Train, Town and Cafe. The company recently opened up an office in San Francisco and Dr. Panda Plus Home Designer represents the company’s first real-world toy. The company sent me one and I enjoyed trying it out with my kid. She spent a couple hours coloring in cards and populating virtual houses with those objects. She wants to spend more time playing with it.
The set we received had a broken black marker, but according to the company they fixed the production problem and if anyone encounters a broken marker they said they’ll replace it.
An information sheet for the toy suggested kids as young as 3-years-old might enjoy playing with Dr. Panda Plus Home Designer. Each card has two sides and one of them is already colored in. So kids don’t even have to color stuff if they don’t want to. They can just bring the pre-colored items into their virtual homes. Each of the cards is clearly labeled with the spelling of an object, and when bringing a drawing into the house the app asks kids to spell by dragging letters to the right spots on the screen.
Dr. Panda Plus Home Designer combines two common kids activities in a really straightforward way. Augmented reality is only a small part of the toy but it is used well to help show a kid’s drawing coming to life on a gadget. If your kid is familiar with Dr. Panda apps, this toy will fit in right alongside them.