Busy and absentee parents, meet your new best friend. As part of Demo 08, the emerging tech conference which takes place in Palm Desert Januaury 28 to 30, LeapFrog is unveiling a new handheld learn-to-read technology that interacts directly with real books. Available this summer for $50, the Tag Reading System uses a pen-based reader (pictured) to provide audio for the stories, "as well as the fun-filled games and activities spread throughout the pages."
The press release describes the product this way:
"The Tag handheld works with Tag-enabled books to create an independent and interactive reading experience for children. By simply touching the highly responsive Tag reader anywhere on any page of a Tag book, children can bring their favorite stories to life. The pocket-sized Tag platform 'reads' by using a small, sophisticated infrared camera that works as an imaging system to recognize letters, words and symbols printed on the page. Using the PC- and Mac-compatible LeapFrog Connect Application, parents can download audio for each book in the Tag library, then manage content the way they manage MP3 or digital camera files. With 16 MB of onboard flash memory, the Tag reader can hold up to five books at a time."
Leapfrog says the Tag Reading System will launch with an 18-volume library of children's classic books, activity books and activity cards from such publishers HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic and others to "showcase beloved characters such as Fancy Nancy, Walter the Farting Dog, Olivia and Miss Spider." (I'd say something snarky about the audio coming to life in Walter the Farting Dog, but it's too early in the week to stoop to such juvenile levels).
As I said, the electronic component of the system will retail for $50, while Tag Books and Activity Boards will carry an MSRP of $13.99 each. The system is geared toward kids aged 4 to 8 and parents who feel guilty for not reading to their kids enough (that would be me).