Augmented reality teddy bear teaches kids about being a doctor

Jon Fingas
Kids frequently don't need much more than their imagination to bring a teddy bear to life, but what if they had a little boost?

Kids frequently don't need much more than their imagination to bring a teddy bear to life, but what if they had a little boost? That's what Seedling hopes to do with Parker. The teddy by itself is the same sort of fluffy companion you likely had as a child, but an augmented reality app for iOS turns the bear into something much more. If you want to play doctor, you can look at Parker's insides to cure a stomach bug or ease a sore throat. You can create magic forests and sea gardens using the AR camera. And importantly you're rewarded for being kind: the more you take care of Parker, the more the bear uses AR to 'transform' the world around you.

Parker is available now for $60 with all the accessories you need to get started (besides an iPhone or iPad), including an interactive toy thermometer. That's not a trivial amount for a stuffed toy, but Seedling is betting that the AR element will be worth it as it teaches empathy and problem solving in addition to whatever your young ones imagine. The catch? You'll have to visit an Apple store (online or retail) in "select countries," and the use of ARKit for Parker's magic puts a damper on the possibility of Android support (or at least, ARCore support) in the immediate future.

Update: While there was no mention of Android at first, the company tells us that an Android app should be available on October 4th -- it just won't take advantage of ARKit features, for obvious reasons. You need a device running Lollipop or newer, or a Kindle Fire tablet from the past couple of years.

Seedling