Disney’s Appmates Turn The iPad Into An Interactive Playmat

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I wasn’t much for playing with toy cars as a kid — you’d have found me parked in front of a Sega Genesis, if anything — but I suspect Disney Mobile’s new line of Appmate iPad peripherals would have been just the thing to change my mind.

The Appmates and the iPad work in tandem to create a pretty novel play experience. Featuring the likenesses of characters from Cars 2, the Appmates are miniature figures with special sensors mounted on the bottom.

Those sensors (patent pending, naturally) identify each particular figure to the iPad, so it will know the difference between Tow Mater and and Lightning McQueen even if you don’t.

By gently pressing the figure down on the screen, the corresponding app essentially turns the iPad into an interactive playmat. Since the iPad can differentiate between characters, players will hear different bits of narration and dialogue depending on the figure they’re using.

The app itself takes a sandbox approach to the Cars world: players can engage in races with other characters, complete missions to pick up some virtual cash, or just tool around scenic Radiator Springs. It’s an incredibly cool concept, and one that you can believe Disney will milk in coming months.

The last time we heard from Disney Mobile was during the launch of “Where’s My Water?”, an iOS game starring a brand new character who they hoped would hit an Angry Birds level of ubiquity. The plan seems to be working so far, as Where’s My Water? has since overtaken Angry Birds in the Top Paid Apps chart. If the Appmates gain the same kind of traction, expect to see them everywhere just in time for the holidays.