The LeapPad — that Tonka-tough tablet from LeapFrog you're not afraid to hand over to your kids — is taking a cue from Nintendo amiibo and Disney Affinitiy with a collection of educational card packs called Imagicards that interact with apps and games on the device when imported through its camera. But they can also be enjoyed on their own when playing with a tablet isn't an option — or its battery is dead.
The Imagicards, which come 30+ to a $US25 pack, are not unlike the maths and spelling flash cards many of us used as kids (via our parents) to augment our daily lessons at school. But to help make those lessons more enticing to kids, LeapFrog has licensed popular properties like Paw Patrol and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the first few packs that will be hitting store shelves come August.
The card packs each work alongside a specific LeapPad app to provide kids with a more interactive way to answer questions or solve puzzles. Instead of tapping in the number two on a touchscreen in response to a maths problem, kids can instead point their LeapPad's camera at one of the Imagicards featuring the number two on it, and the app will automatically recognise their response.
The idea is to keep kids engaged, but also a little more physically involved than just staring and poking at a touchscreen like a preschool zombie. But all of the Imagicards are also available in their accompanying app as virtual representations for those times when there might not be enough room to play with the actual deck — like when a kid is stuck on a plane for hours.
Alongside the Imagicards, LeapFrog also announced a new $US130 tablet called the LeapPad Platinum that will be available next month. Featuring a seven-inch multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels, the LeapPad isn't designed to go head-to-head with the likes of the iPad Mini. It's instead specifically designed to cater to younger kids with a large collection of downloadable games and apps, as well as a browser that can only access web content that LeapFrog, and parents, deem kid-safe.
But above all that, the LeapPad Platinum is designed to be very, very tough. If a toddler throws an iPad to the ground, you'll soon find yourself trying to convince an Apple Genius that its screen just spontaneously shattered on you. But the LeapPad has reinforced shock-absorbing bumpers all the way around, and a shatter-proof screen so that if your kid does find its limits, the resulting damage won't pose a safety risk to them. And if they do manage to break it, at least they will still have those Imagicards to keep themselves entertained. [LeapFrog]