Disney Appmates 'Cars' toys mean parents may never see their iPads again (video)

If you're a parent with an iPad, there's a good chance your tablet already disappears for long stretches, only to come back covered in tiny fingerprints. Today's Appmates announcement from Disney will likely have plenty of parents seriously considering the purchase of a second tablet for the home. The Cars toys are meant to be driven across the top of an iPad, interacting with a downloadable Cars 2 Appmates app, which lets kids drive around courses, race and complete missions. The app will be offered up as a free download through iTunes, and the cars will run $20 for a two-pack -- the different toys unlock different features, according to Disney. The toys will be made available in October through Apple and Disney Stores and various retailers. Press info and a video after the break.

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Disney Introduces Appmates Mobile Application Toys -- First Toy to Allow Kids to Use Apple iPad(R) as Virtual Play Mat

In an industry first, Disney introduced today Disney AppMATes(TM) Mobile Application Toys, a new toy line that comes to life digitally when used with an Apple iPad by allowing kids to use the tablet's screen as a virtual play mat. Developed in collaboration between Disney Consumer Products (DCP) and Disney Mobile and featuring patent-pending technology, the Appmates toy line features miniature Disney*Pixar Cars 2 vehicles with sensors on the base of each toy that are recognized as a unique footprint by an app with no cable or Bluetooth connection required. Simply download the free Cars 2 Appmates app from the iTunes app store, place your favorite Appmates toy character on the screen and play.

(Editor's note: Product images available at , demo video available at )

"We have cracked the technology code in changing the way kids play with their toys," said Sunny Lauridsen, director of digital toys for DCP. "Kids will always use toys to play out their favorite Disney stories, but Disney Appmates now allows them to include technology which has become a way of life for them through a beautifully rich app."

The magic begins when kids place their vehicle on the iPad and begin to explore the world of Cars. Available for download in early to mid-October, Cars 2 Appmates app is a free app created by Disney exclusively for use with Appmates toys. By guiding the Appmates vehicle on the screen, the iPad becomes a virtual play mat where kids can experience the world of Radiator Springs.

"We believe iPad is becoming a critical canvas for the next generation of storytelling, and with Appmates we're bringing Disney characters to life in a way never previously imagined," said Bart Decrem, general manager of Disney Mobile.

Cars 2 Appmates features include:

-- Exploration -- Drive around the world of Radiator Springs to discover landscapes and hidden secrets by simply placing the Cars toy character on the screen and turning it in any direction. Drive through mud and up ramps, visit friends at Flo's V8 Cafe or check out your Car's reflection, showing off your latest gear and gadgets.

-- Directed Game Play -- Perform missions unique to each character. Completed missions -- like helping bring a tow hook back to Mater -- gain hubcaps, the virtual currency. Collect enough hubcaps to personalize each car with special features like a unique horn sound, customized tire tracks, and cool gear like a rocket launcher or spy vision goggles.

-- Racing -- Rev up the action by racing against World Grand Prix opponents and your Radiator Springs friends. Five racetracks are available at launch. Race around Willy's Butte, jump off Carburetor Mesa and roar through downtown Radiator Springs earning hubcaps in day or night races.

Each toy unlocks different features and content within the app specific to the character, allowing kids to come back over and over to enjoy an imaginative, open-ended play experience using the Appmates toys. Fans can download and test the app by simply using their fingers to drive a virtual car through the world, but the play experience is optimized to come to life with the Appmates toy vehicles.

Created in collaboration with Spin Master, Disney Appmates toys are available starting Oct. 1 at national retailers, Apple Store, Apple Store online, Disney Store and with vehicle two-packs (SRP $19.99) featuring four characters including Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, Finn McMissile, and Holley Shiftwell. Two additional characters -- Francesco Bernoulli and Shu Todoroki -- will launch in November and be available exclusively through Apple Store and Apple Store online.