Sony's Wonderbook aims to captivate children

Sony Entertainment of America has announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) a new educational peripheral for the PlayStation 3 — the Wonderbook — that focuses on educating children through interactive books and documents.

Sony announces the Wonderbook to a surprised crowd.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

The Wonderbook looks similar to a book, but serves as an augmented-reality (AR) pad that works with the PS3's PlayStation Eye camera (and PlayStation Move) to display an interactive book on-screen. The US$39.99 Wonderbook and Blu-ray, due out later this year in the US, represent a new direction for Sony, a company that in the past primarily used its gaming devices to deliver entertainment content.

The actual Wonderbook comes to life on-screen, as seen here. The woman holds a PlayStation Move controller, which transforms into a wand on-screen.
(Screenshot by Christopher MacManus/CNET)

House showed off a lengthy demo for the Wonderbook with The Book of Spells, which was created in collaboration with Harry Potter author JK Rowling. Each chapter of the book, written over 200 years ago by fictional character Miranda Goshawk, guides the user through the art of learning 20 magic spells, duelling and a few other twists and turns.

"Wonderbook: Book of Spells is the closest a Muggle can come to a real spell book. I've loved working with Sony's creative team to bring my spells, and some of the history behind them, to life. This is an extraordinary device that offers a reading experience like no other," said Rowling in a quote provided by Sony.

During CNET's live blog of Sony's E3 press conference, our editors at the show seemed mostly impressed with the Wonderbook. However, one may take pause after editor Scott Stein noted that the Wonderbook "is really just creative repackaging of existing ideas from other games and products".

Watch this video of the Wonderbook in action.


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