Mattel has announced that kids can learn programming through a matchup of Hot Wheels id, which combines digital and physical race cars, and Apple’s Swift programming language.
Hot Wheels id is a new product that Mattel launched in June, reminiscent of toys-to-life games such as Skylanders. It has toy tracks and cars with NFC tags that you can scan into a digital account on an iPad. The Race Portal measures the speed of the toy car as it moves down the lanes, and it tracks this data in the digital version, where you can complete challenges.
The whole idea of the digital-physical combo is to create experiences with toys that keep kids engaged and coming back. If they know their performance stats and want to get on a leaderboard or beat their friends, then the digital part of the platform gives them the reason to stay more engaged and returning.
With the Swift Playground integration, kids can upload the code from their Hot Wheels id car. Then they can join an adventure story on the iPad where each chapter is a different scene which they will need to use Swift programming skills to solve. Each chapter rises in difficulty as the player learns more about how to use Swift coding. The experience is targeted at kids ages 8 and up.
The Swift Playground experience teaches coding concepts and the potential of augmented reality. Swift Playgrounds is an app for iPad that aims to make learning to code interactive and fun. It requires no coding knowledge, so it is aimed at students just starting to learn. Users can solve puzzles to master coding basics, take on a series of challenges, and step up to more advanced playgrounds designed by Apple and other leading developers.
In the Hot Wheels id Swift Playgrounds, the Hot Wheels id car has been stolen by the evil genius Draven and you need to get it back. Each chapter is a different scene that progresses in difficulty as you master basic Swift programming skills. You find hidden tokens and passwords in augmented reality and collect coins to progress through scenes and guided exercises, all while learning Swift programming basics.
Scene one opens up with an introduction to the technology behind Hot Wheels id and the Race Portal, where you can use your iPad to scan your physical car on the Race Portal to connect with the digital environments. You pair your iPad, race your car, and use augmented reality to view it in real life. You can view a scanned car in 1:64 scale or at life size. You can search for hidden clues and tokens by enlarging any of the islands and walking around it or rotating it 360 degrees. As you complete each challenge, you can use AR to find hidden passwords and activate the gateway to the next scene.