Microsoft to Kinect with Consumers
Microsoft has been demo-ing its newest creation Xbox Kinect (formerly known as Project Natal). The system, which will be available in November, is motion activated, working without a controller. Users step in front of the sensor and the game recognizes the player. Players use their hands in an “iPod-like” scroll motion to choose games to play or to flip between options on the screen. But the magic is that Kinect recognizes each specific player not just that any person is standing in front of the sensor allowing for an incredibly customized experience, especially with the exercise game options.
It will work with the existing Xbox 360 as it is considered an accessory and not an entirely new platform purchase. The MSRP for Kinect is $149.99. Also available is Xbox 360 4GB console with Kinect for $299.99.
Games available at launch, each with a suggested retail price of $49.99, have not yet been rated but are family friendly. Kinect Adventures, which is the game included with every Kinect Sensor purchase, allows players to jump, dodge, and kick their way though team adventures such as roaring rapids and mountaintop obstacles courses. The game even takes players photos as would be done while on rides at a theme park.
Dance games, sports, and exercise games all get players off the couch and into the experience. Players really have to work at their movements to do well.
In addition, there is a voice-activated feature for those watching movies. Viewers can say, “Xbox pause” or “Xbox play” when watching a film.
Zobi Joins the Cast of Sesame Square
Sesame Workshop announced that Zobi will be the name of the blue Muppet, as chosen by the people of Nigeria via a mobile vote, to join Sesame Square. Sesame Square, the Nigerian version of Sesame Street, is slated to premiere later this year.
As was reported earlier in July, Sesame Square will be hosted by Kami, a girl Muppet who is HIV-positive and has golden fur and a taste for adventure and knowledge. Now Zobi, a furry blue boy Muppet who is energetic and finds ways to make even the simplest task fun and exciting will join the cast as well. As you may recall, the Nigerian people were asked to vote via text message to name the Muppet.
Together, Kami and Zobi will welcome viewers to each episode and will be seen in several segments throughout the half-hour including Word of the Day segments filmed in cities across the country, featuring Nigerian children interacting with the Muppets. Each half-hour block will also present the following Sesame Street formats known to children worldwide: Bert and Ernie’e Great Adventures, Elmo’s World, Global Grover, and Play with Me Sesame.
Surtex 2011 Expands Show Space
Surtex 2011 will take place May 15–17 in the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. The 2011 show will mark the 25th anniversary of the only trade show in North America devoted to the sale and licensing of original art and design.
Show manager GLM will expand the exhibit area to accommodate some 300 exhibitors in all, up from the nearly 250 exhibitors at Surtex 2010.
Brilliant Sky Toys Opens in Austin
Brilliant Sky Toys & Books announced the opening of its newest franchise in Austin, Texas. The 3,125 square-foot store, located in the Village at Westlake shopping center, is owned by Matt and Maya Pomroy, longtime Austin residents and parents to a young daughter.
The Village at Westlake store is the first in Austin with another Texas location in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in The Shops at Highland Village. The Austin opening brings the total number of Brilliant Sky Toys & Books stores to eight nationwide.
“Both the city of Austin and Brilliant Sky are unique, so we know it’s a great fit already,” said Brent Taylor, CEO of Brilliant Sky Toys & Books, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be expanding our presence in Texas and optimistic about the Austin community embracing what the brand has to offer.”
Bradford Licensing Expands in India
Bradford Licensing, a New Jersey based global licensing agency has just signed a joint venture agreement with India’s largest franchise conglomerate, Franchise India Group to form Bradford License India (BLI).
Bradford Licensing and Franchise India collectively plan to complement as well as capitalize on each other’s core competencies for developing the brand licensing market in India.
Aldi Founder Dies at Age 88
The Wall Street Journal reported that Theo Albrecht, one of the founders of German discount supermarket chain Aldi, died last Saturday at age 88.
Brothers Theo and Karl Albrecht turned a bare bones grocery store, started by their parents, into a global business operating Aldi stores across Europe, the U.S, and Australia along with Trader Joe’s. The stores were originally named Albrecht Discount, which was then shortened to Aldi.
The brothers pioneered the low-cost, bare bones shopping experience, which is often thought to be an American creation. The chain generated $69 billion in revenues last year, according to The Wall Street Journal obituary.