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Augmented Reality App Review: ‘Dr. Panda Plus: Home Designer’

The Dr. Panda (formerly TribePlay) companion app series expands with Home Designer, the first in a series of augmented reality-powered toys that bridge physical and digital play.

This free app works with a special kit (this one has a $39.99 suggested retail price). Users can install the app on up to three devices simultaneously.

The two main game modes are design and quest. Design is basically a open sandbox experience (similar to the popular Sims game series) where users try out various interactions, constructions and customizations.

Developers provide plenty of houses in each “neighborhood” so each family member/child can get their own house for their creation sessions. Each house contains four rooms so users can easily populate them with their creations. One big omission is a storage library, so users should take a picture. Once the creation is placed in the home, then that’s it.

The quest mode has more structure where users make various choices among well varied exercises where users often find answers by flipping through the 51 cards.

Users create their home with various characters and customized items from 51 double-sided flashcards they color and customize with 12 dry-erase, non-toxic markers. Drawings within the lines prevents any issues in this experience while helping young one develop this key skill. Users transfer their flashcards into the app as a 3-D object using the device camera (in portrait mode). Developers have cool animations when this action completes and users can rotate the camera view around the object. This educational augmented reality experience requires users spell the object by placing letters in the correct order before they can use it.

Now for the best part of this augmented reality experience – the interactions. Children delight when the characters react, use, and interact (e.g. change clothes) with the various objects.

Older children probably won’t find high challenges (no scores or achievable goals) since the target audiences are ages three to eight years old. The objects include standard tables, chairs, lamps, etc. (over 50 total) with the ability to change the wall and floor colors in any room.

For the set-up, be sure you do not throw away the box. You will need the information on it, especially the QR code for an easier beginning to this augmented reality experience. The set-up is very easy

Users can also customize their own stories, recognize words, learn new words, spell words, learn phonics and distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters.

A highly recommended experience with engaging interaction and simplistic interface that maximizes learning and young audience experience, it is definitely worth the $39.99 kit price from the repeatability of the creations via the flashcards and customizations with the environments. Available for iOS, Amazon and Android devices.  Rated Ages 4+ and E for Everyone.

Founded in 2012, Dr. Panda is an award-winning kids’ app developer and the largest independent kids’ paid app creator with its own character IP. With offices in Chengdu, China, and San Francisco, CA, Dr. Panda has created over 30 games and a new series of app connected toys that entertain and help kids learn about the world, using safe and child friendly content. Parents can follow Dr. Panda on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Youtube, or learn more at http://www.drpanda.com.

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