Mattel Experiments With Mixed Reality Toy Design

Mattel uses top tech from Spatial and HoloLens to accelerate play innovation.

This week thousands of people descended on Barcelona, Spain for Mobile World Congress where Microsoft has already unveiled the HoloLens 2, the next generation of Microsoft mixed reality. It features a larger field-of-view, more comfort, and industry leading value right out of the box. This includes a wider field of view, the ability to interact with holograms, voice recognition, and much more. Ultimately, Microsoft’s goal is to transform “the way work gets done.” The HoloLens 2 will cost $3,500, $1,500 less than the original HoloLens released four years ago. 

Mattel, one of the world’s largest toy manufacturing companies on the planet, has been a long-time supporter of global learning, focusing heavily on the development of products they hope will inspire the next generation of kids. Mattel creates systems of play, content, and experiences that help kids unlock their full potential.

Now the company is turning to mixed reality technology to do the same with its own employees by increasing collaboration through Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Spatial, a collaborative platform that transforms any room into a collaborative workplace through mixed reality. Spatial turns the space around you into a shared augmented workplace, allowing remote users to collaborate, search, brainstorm, and share content as if they were in the same room.

Mattel MR at MWC 2019 / Image Credit: Spatial

How does a 74 year old toy company, creators of some of the most iconic toys, continue to drive play innovation?

Mattel’s CTO, Sven Gerjets explains, “At Mattel we’re undergoing a massive digital transformation, it’s touching all aspects of our business. This includes the way we are using technology to design and develop our products. Our classic Brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price have diverse teams designers, engineer’s marketers and manufacturers spread all over the world they can now come together in a Spatial project room reducing the need to travel as much to get everybody on the same page.”

Mattel MR at MWC 2019 / Image Credit: Spatial

In a Spatial project room teams can pin up dynamic content on virtual walls, such a PowerPoint, videos, concept art to rapidly share ideas and find potential issues earlier in the design process. Spatial project rooms also allow for various forms of ideation. For example, say a word and watch it appear in front of the team’s eyes, inclusive of webpages, and a full-blown internet search complete with 3D model images and other useful information.

Mattel has a global workforce of approximately 32,000 people, with operations in 40 countries and territories that sell products to over 150 nations. With such a vast global team, a shared understanding is critical in driving collaboration and product innovation success.

Microsoft HoloLens 2 / Image Credit: Microsoft

Mattel is no stranger to play innovation as Mattel’s Sven Gerjets discussed during CES 2019. At New York Toy Fair last week, Mattel announced Hot Wheels TechMods, the first ever gaming RC, and Pictionary Air, an augmented reality tech twist to the classic game play.

It’s exciting to see mixed reality technology serving a practical purpose in an office environment. The ability to enhance conference calls by allowing remote team members to not only communicate, but collaborate as if they were in the same room, adds a whole new dimension to corporate synergy.

About the Scout

Valerie Vacante

Val Vacante is the Director of Strategy for global customer experience agency, Merkle, a dentsu company, where she uncovers cultural trends, designs strategies, and next-generation innovations. Val is also the Founder of strategy and innovation firm Collabsco. Val has pioneered digital products and integrated marketing experiences across digital platforms, connected communities, IoT, and extended reality experiences for Fortune 100 brands and up-and-coming startups. Named Top 25 Women in Tech, 40/ Forty, and Top 10 Pioneering CEOs to Follow, she serves on the SXSW Innovation Advisory Board, MassChallenge Expert, an international speaker, and writer. You can likely find her at arcades, museums, tech incubators, and almost anywhere creators are designing the future.

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