You may know Mo Willems as the Caldecott Honor-winning author of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale,
You may know Mo Willems as the Caldecott Honor-winning author of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale,
Today, Disney launches Disney Universe, a fun and darkly whimsical new game for tweens and families from Disney Interactive Studios that takes 45 Disney and Disney Pixar movie characters set in your choice of six Disney or Disney Pixar movie sets - all in one place for the first time ever.
As the story opens, the Universe is a peaceful place where VIC, the Virtual Information Cube is your tour guide, and characters called Cast bots are designed to take you on a "journey of your dreams" through beloved Disney environments that you know from the movies. As you're being assured that things are "completely safe" VIC is taken over in a Mr. Hyde kind of a way by a villainous cube named HEX, who proclaims himself the new master of Disney Universe. As he says, he's ready to "rock, roll and reboot."
I spent last night traipsing NYC's 5th Ave for the stylish citywide soiree that is Fashion's Night Out: A casual citywide embrace for consumers during Fashion Week. It's like the biggest fashion party imaginable, and appeared to be even larger, bolder and brighter than ever in just its third year.
Stores hosted celebrity meet-n-greets and photo opps, clothing and accessory unveilings, exclusive colors and items, shopping discounts, personal shopping and makeovers, raffles, samples, goodies and more. A girls night out to end all girls nights out.
I have to share, though, that while I was marveling at the designer shoes, jewelry, scarves and faux fur vests, I awoke this morning to one photo on my camera:
Yep, I attended a fashion event and the only photo I have is of the super swanky Lenovo DJ laptop in the Lenovo Connections Lounge set up at Saks. Or should I say party laptop? Because wherever that thing is, there's sure to be a party. It was one very cool tricked-out turntable laptop!!
Let's just say that I was too busy soaking in the fashion and making my wishlist that I took photos in my mind of the clothes, shoes and accessories I was enamored with... ;-) Can't wait to see what they come up with for Fashion's Night Out 2012!
Here's some exciting news from Ford, straight from the buzz-worthy debut of their Ford EVOS concept car in Germany ahead of the Frankfurt Auto Show. Ford unveiled a preview of the sleek and modern EVOS - a plug-in hybrid that offers the first glimpse at the new global design for the next generation of Ford cars (including crossovers, hatchbacks and SUVs). The Ford EVOS intends to showcase even more fully integrated personalized technology than the current Microsoft SYNC system too. Love it.
By seamlessly linking up with the cloud, the Ford EVOS will be able to personalize your driving and riding experience by connecting your home and work life with the car. So you could continue to stream a program you were listening to in your home or office inside your car...or turn off the lights in your home once you're pulling out the driveway in your EVOS.
It can further customize your experience by adjusting the temperature (pre-heating or pre-cooling it before you slide in), music, steering and engine settings tailored to your driving preferences - or even your state of alertness to reduce tired driving. By constantly syncing up with your home and work life in the cloud, the car will have access to your calendar and can monitor traffic patterns or suggest faster routes if you're on your way to an appointment.
I love the connectedness, intuitiveness and seemingly small touches like preheating the car that make for a more enjoyable - luxurious maybe? - ride. The good news too, is that Ford spokespeople announced that their working on more expedited schedules to roll out the next generation of vehicles - with production coming in months rather than in years. You can see a few details from the Ford Focus and Taurus designs in this, and I expect they'll be retooling the Ford Fusion with this design soon. . . and maybe even the Mustang?!
Just before we left for our coast to coast roadtrip, AT&T sent me the LG Thrill 4G (formerly called the Optimus 3D) to try out. It's the first glasses-free 3D phone that I've used . . . which means that you can capture and playback 3D photos or videos and play 3D games without having to wear 3D glasses.
By looks alone, the LG Thrill phone reminds me of the HTC HD7 Windows Phone 7, as both are thin and sleek and have luxurious 4.3 inch screens. However, the LG Thrill is really geared toward people who want to produce, consume and play with 3D media, so it has the added power of a dual-core processor for speed, two 5 megapixel cameras (one 2D, one 3D), and runs on the Android 2.2 (Froyo) platform. It also can become a mobile hotspot for up to five devices - which came in oh-so handy on our three-week trip!
Avatar Kinect officially launched today, the newest gadget in Kinect Fun Labs on Xbox LIVE. Avatar Kinect takes the already cool Kinect body tracking experience a step further with facial recognition: sensing and mirroring movements of the mouth and eyebrows (fabulous for animated speakers like me!). I first saw this avatar experience teased earlier this year during the Microsoft keynote at CES 2011, and I just had the opportunity to play around with it this past week.
Here's my avatar in the beach setting: Hello!
Avatar Kinect mimics your facial expressions and captures your voice so when you move, smile and speak, your avatar does the same. You can invite up to seven others to join you for a chat or private party, and unlike some Kinect games where you can share/split the screen, the technology requires each person/avatar to use an Xbox with Kinect to participate. (You can all virtually meet and party from your own homes!) It allows you to record up to five minutes of a speech, party or interview and use Kinect Share to share your "show" via email or upload it to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
There are two dozen stage settings that run the gamut from a TV talk show to the beach. Each comes with its own set of custom "emotes" like applause, lasers or other special effects, and each stage setting has its own uniquely entertaining avatar entrances and exits - we crack UP everytime an avatar leaves the outer space stage on a jet pack or whirls onto the beach in a tornado sand cloud, but find it frustrating that they're served up randomly when you enter/exit the stage and you can't call them up with the wave of a hand or push of a button. Soooo, we do a lot of entering and exiting ;-)
Avatar Kinect is definitely fun to use, and you can't help but smile watching yourself as an Avatar on the screen. I'm excited to see what Microsoft is going to do with it, as a step toward something greater. Perhaps making Kinect Sports more interactive, or creating an Avatar Kinect Sims virtual world game on Xbox LIVE - the ability to put your customized character INTO a game and play as yourself is pretty cool.
While there's other applications, like Microsoft has been talking about virtual teams of doctors using Kinect for experimental medical procedures, or perhaps using this as a virtual Skype. Even for people like me having babies far from family and loved ones: I didn't attend the baby shower my family threw me, instead I literally phoned it in from across the country and they shipped the gifts and shared the photos afterward. Avatar Kinect would allow me to join family celebrations - or sorority sister reunions and virtual Girls Nights In using this. It does take getting used to interacting without the usual in-person communicaton cues as the technology can only recognize one speaker or button command at a time, so in that way, this virtual chat room experience carries with it the etiquette of a phone conversation so people don't talk over each other.
It's important to note however, that while Avatar Kinect appears family-friendly and aimed at tweens, this initial version is appropriate for 13+. Just a warning for parents accustomed to leaving the room and letting your big kid play video games alone under the guidance of the Xbox family/child security settings.
Avatar Kinect is available for free download to all Xbox LIVE members until September 8th, when only Xbox LIVE Gold members will have access to it. (It's a large file to download, but I think the novelty of it is warranted.) Starting Thursday, July 28th, the Xbox Facebook page is hosting a special Avatar Kinect comedy contest, featuring some of Hollywood’s funniest stand-up comedians. You'll be able to watch the comedians perform through Avatar Kinect and vote for your favorite video for a chance to win an Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle!
Earlier this week the Kiddo and I visited the Nintendo World Store in NYC for the launch of the officially licensed K'NEX building sets inspired by the Mario Kart Wii game. The new building sets bring the famed Nintendo video game characters, Mario, Luigi and Yoshi to the hands-on construction set world. The Kiddo had a blast playing Mario Kart Wii, building with the new K'NEX pieces and getting to meet Mario and Luigi!
Here's a sample of the new building set tracks:
A look at the character figurines and their battery-operated carts (motorcycle bikes are available too)...
The K'NEX Mario Kart Wii Building Sets are designed for kids 6+ and are the same quality you'd expect from K'NEX. We received the Mario vs. Goombas Building Set to review and the Kiddo studied the box nearly the whole train ride home so that he was ready to dig in and start building the set the second we walked in the door.
I attended an AT&T holiday media showcase earlier this week and was excited to get an early look at the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play 4G, otherwise known as the "Playstation phone." It worked and played like you'd expect the PSP to work, which is great news for mobile gamers. The Xperia Play for the AT&T network features a four inch display, 5 Megapixel back camera with a front camera for video chat, and a sleek slide-out game control pad.
Yesterday AT&T announced it was taking pre-sale orders for the new HTC Status phone with Facebook Share button. The HTC Status is more than a smartphone, it's a lean mean status-sharing machine aimed at Millenials and other Facebook fiends. Based on my experience, and the reactions of the gaggle of young 20-somethings I shared it with, it could quickly become the go-to phone for the back-to-school shopping season.
It's the first phone with a dedicated Facebook share button, letting your friends and family know what you're doing, who you're with, or where you are - the ultimate status symbol - instantaneous with just one touch. It takes literally one click to instantly share your status, photo or video on Facebook without having to open an app or open a website.
Early learning device experts LeapFrog Enterprises announced they're taking pre-orders for their upcoming LeapPad. I had the Kiddo with me last week for a day of meetings and was grateful that of all days to have him with me, it was probably the best day to take him along. We visited the LeapFrog holiday product showcase together and he got the chance to play with the LeapPad before it will hit store shelves in a few months. I literally had to pry it out of his hands. You could say he loved it. You can also pre-order the LeapPad now for $99 on Amazon.
All content (c) Coast2Coast Mom.