Mattel Barbie Dream Closet engages new generation of fans and reinforces 60-year-old brand

Mattel Barbie Dream ClosetMuch like Build-A-Bear Workshop, Mattel has been watching the trends and finding that children are embracing digital media. How can the company keep a toy like the Barbie doll, launched in 1959, relevant in a world where tablet computers and smartphones dominate kids' wishlists?

Once again, Kinect for Windows has proved a formidable ally in bridging the gap between digital entertainment and traditional toys. A six-month project for Mattel, Gun Communications and creative applications developer Adapptor built Barbie: the Dream Closet, which lets enthusiasts of all ages across Australia virtually try on a variety Barbie outfits from different decades by using a Kinect for Windows-enabled "magic mirror." Have you ever wondered what you’d look like in one of Barbie's ball gowns, or as an astronaut, or a race car driver? With the Dream Closet, it's possible. Additionally, you can save and share photos over social media, or even take a photo home.

To build the application, each outfit was photographed on a Barbie doll, trimmed into its component parts, and then reconstructred dynamically on Barbie fans by the custom Dream Closet application, built in Microsoft XNA. The Kinect for Windows sensor and software development kit (SDK) make it easy to accurately determine the size of the user so the virtual clothes and selection menus can be fitted to match.

"If we would have had to write code from the ground up [versus using code provided in the SDK], it would have taken much longer, and the end result wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful," said Adapptor Managing Director Mark Loveridge. "The Kinect for Windows SDK doubled our development speed."

The result of Barbie: the Dream Closet? Increased customer brand loyalty and media coverage yielding more than 25 million impressions, a new case study reports.

"The impact of Kinect for Windows on the public and the Barbie brand is incredible," notes Mattel Marketing Director Amanda Allegos. "Kinect for Windows has given us a new way to reach existing Barbie fans and attract new ones in a way that's contemporary, interactive, and bridges both the digital and physical worlds."

Kinect for Windows team

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