Florian Gmeiner: At the Lego Group, we have a mission: we want our products to inspire children, the builders of tomorrow, and foster their development through inventive play and the learning that comes from this. And, of course, we use our insights into how children play to come up with new sets and entire play worlds. One example of this is what experts refer to as fluid play: play that seamlessly transitions between reality and the digital world as one creative unit.
Is that why you have integrated augmented reality (AR) technology (superimposing digital content onto real images) into the new series?
F. G.: Precisely. Our specially developed AR app brings constructed models virtually to life on the smartphone screen. In this way, children get to play in both the physical and digital worlds at the same time. With LEGO Hidden Side, we are therefore emulating the natural way in which children play. Nowadays, they move in both worlds without differentiating between digital and tactile play. This fluid play experience is precisely what we are now offering them with LEGO Hidden Side, developed by our LEGO team.
The Spielwarenmesse’s international TrendCommittee recently identified the Digital goes Physical theme as one of the most important trends in the industry. Are you not swimming against the tide with Hidden Side?
F. G.: This is not comparing like with like. After all, LEGO Hidden Side is not about transferring content to a new format, but connecting two worlds: the AR component enhances the tactile building experience without replacing it. All LEGO Hidden Side adventures take place in the fictitious city of Newbury, which looks like a very normal city at first glance with buildings built in the usual way. Its hidden side is revealed when it is viewed via a smartphone app and children can engage with the digital play component.