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LEGO FUSION – blending real & digital worlds

by admin on June 20, 2014

in LEGO Games & Apps

Recently I was invited to a special sneak-peek event of a new LEGO product combining LEGO bricks and technology that will be released by LEGO Future Lab – an organization within the company dedicated to exploring the future of play by identifying and developing new play experiences. The event took place a couple of days ago in New York, and since that was too far for me to go, I sent a good friend and fellow LEGO fan to the event on my behalf. So first of all I wanted to thank Don Banzai for taking time off of his busy schedule to go to the presentation and for reporting back to us with all the exciting information about this new product. And now let’s take a look at what’s coming! 🙂

LEGO FUSION Press-Release

The presentation was done by Leah Barash from FlashPoint Public Relations and Ditte Bruun Pedersen from LEGO Future Lab. The new product line is going to be called LEGO FUSION and it includes a video game for smart-phones and tablets, as well as LEGO sets that work with them. My first impression is that this is kind of like an upgrade from the previously released LEGO Life of George. Don compared it to the movie TRON where characters move between the real and the physical world. Below you will find the official press-release, along with pictures, and a video-preview to introduce you to the concept of this new way of playing and building.

LEGO Systems Blends Physical and Digital Play with New LEGO FUSION

New Play Experience Moves Children Seamlessly Back and Forth Between Physical and Virtual LEGO Worlds Via Hands-On Brick Building and App Gaming to Delight LEGO Builders and Casual Gamers Alike

LEGO Systems, Inc., makers of the world’s leading construction toys, today introduced LEGO FUSION, a play experience that combines traditional LEGO brick play with familiar app-based game themes. LEGO FUSION leverages new technologies—and children’s fascination with them—to create an entirely new way to engage in LEGO brick building and app game play for children ages 7 and up. Available later this summer, the LEGO FUSION collection will include four distinct titles: LEGO FUSION Town Master, LEGO FUSION Battle Towers, LEGO FUSION Create & Race and LEGO FUSION Resort Designer.

LEGO FUSION Building Plate

Each LEGO FUSION experience consists of a distinct set of LEGO bricks, a corresponding free downloadable app and the new FUSION capture plate, a small brick building plate with a printed design that enables a smart-phone or tablet’s camera to identify the size and colors of the LEGO bricks built onto it. In response to game prompts, children build vertically in 2-D on the FUSION capture plate, enabling the app to ‘see,’ import and transform the creation into 3-D in the digital world.

LEGO FUSION Town Master Capture

“Children have always imagined their LEGO creations as immersive worlds which come to life for hours of role-play and adventure,” said Ditte Bruun Pedersen, senior design manager, LEGO Future Lab. “Recently, smart phones and tablets have become a popular platform for empowering game mechanisms that kids love. LEGO FUSION brings these two favorite play patterns together in an experience where real-life LEGO builds come to life in a virtual game, inspiring creativity, strategy, and the pride of creation.”

LEGO FUSION Town Master Demo

To Win, Step Away from the Screen – Once a child’s creation has been imported into the game, a series of challenges and interactions requires that players turn away from the device and return to the real world to use their LEGO bricks to build new solutions in order to move game play forward. Each game encourages this back-and-forth between physical and virtual, keeping children engaged in both worlds.

LEGO FUSION Town Master Gameplay

“In our research, we heard repeatedly from parents that they are constantly battling ‘zombie gaze,’ the experience when their children are immersed in their device screens for large blocks of time,” said Pedersen. “We developed LEGO FUSION with this challenge in mind, creating a play experience that keeps children entertained with the kind of app gameplay they love while giving real reasons to return to the brick pile to creatively build.” Each LEGO FUSION product offers a distinct play experience. The four products launching this year are:

LEGO FUSION Town Master – In this simulation game, players create and rule their own LEGO town, first by building it with LEGO bricks, then by capturing it and importing it to the game. Children build everything from houses to a pizzeria, fire station and bike shop while completing errands and missions like catching robbers, fighting fires and skateboarding. To keep the minifigure citizens happy, players solve problems through physical building and earn points to gain access to more structures, and even run additional towns.

LEGO FUSION Town Master

LEGO FUSION Battle Towers – Players build a tower and defend it against attack so they can rule the kingdom. First, players design the Battle Towers with real LEGO pieces, then capture them and import them to the game. Next, players choose tower defenders like wizards and archers and battle against evil warriors, skeleton armies, and more. If a tower is damaged in battle, players can repair the damage with a timed build with the game’s real LEGO bricks.

LEGO FUSION Battle Towers

LEGO FUSION Create & Race – In this racing game, players get behind the wheel and virtually drive the cars that they create with real LEGO bricks. Once a custom vehicle is digitally designed, physically built, and imported to the game, it can be optimized for success in racing, demolition or stunts. Players learn that every brick shape and color on the vehicle matters for performance. Three themed courses offer endless challenges unlocked by physical LEGO builds, and children can even ghost race against friends to top the leaderboard.

LEGO FUSION Create and Race

LEGO FUSION Resort Designer – Players help the LEGO Friends design new vacation houses, shops and activities for Ambersands Beach. After building 2-D facades, capturing them and importing them to the game, players can design the interiors of 3-D digital structures, such as an aquarium, surf shop and beach houses. Children can unlock new levels and build more resorts by completing missions like rescuing dolphins, riding horses, surfing and other resort activities.

LEGO FUSION Resort Designer

Beginning in September, LEGO FUSION will incorporate the ability for players to access their digital LEGO creations and game play anywhere. Using their LEGO ID, players can sign in on any compatible device and access their gallery and game play from within the LEGO FUSION app. Developed by TT Games, makers of the best-selling LEGO video game franchise, the LEGO FUSION Town Master, Battle Towers, Create & Race, and Resort Designer app games are free for download from the Apple, Google or Samsung App Store for Apple iOS and Android.

LEGO FUSION Town Master, LEGO FUSION Battle Towers, and LEGO FUSION Create & Race will launch in August 2014. LEGO FUSION Resort Designer will launch in September 2014. Each will be available for $34.99 in LEGO Stores and Toys’R’Us stores in the U.S., as well as online at shop.LEGO.com and at toysrus.com.

LEGO FUSION Create and Race Gameplay

Interesting, isn’t it? After Don had a chance to see how the whole thing works, he said he thinks it is amazing, but he is really looking forward to the 3rd generation of this technology because although it is cool now, you are limited to what comes in the LEGO FUSION kits. And this brings us to an important aspect of the game; the app only works with the LEGO bricks inside each set. In other words it would not work with regular LEGO bricks. However hopefully with future development it will become possible to scan in any LEGO element.

What do you think? How do you like LEGO FUSION based on what you have seen so far? Is this something you are interested to try out? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below! Would love to hear what you think about this! 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING (Seriously i have a mouth of lightning) :) June 20, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Ooh! This is awesome!

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alec June 21, 2014 at 10:24 PM

it looks dumb

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Robin June 23, 2014 at 8:03 AM

Oh gollee gee batman we got a hater

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Chris July 17, 2014 at 4:41 PM

lol

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DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING (Seriously i have a mouth of lightning) :) June 20, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Creat & Race is awesome 😀

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DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING (Seriously i have a mouth of lightning) :) June 20, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Create*

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LegoUniverse Bob June 20, 2014 at 10:48 AM

What a great idea! Is it coming out the same time in the UK as in the US? I hope so, because these look awesome! But I hope they can make it that you can use your own LEGO Bricks to build on the app soon, because that would just be AMAZING!!! They have to make that happen soon!:D:)

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Inventrious June 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Can’t wait! I want the Battle towers one so bad 😀

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Jake June 20, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Sweet!

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Anonymous June 20, 2014 at 12:37 PM

NOOOO WAAAAAY!

It’s like my childhood dream come to life! I can’t wait to see how this concept grows! I hope one day they make an entire MMO revolving around this, taking pictures with your own camera then putting it into the game, maybe even with minifigures too! Just imagine the possibilities! *dreams*

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admin June 20, 2014 at 12:50 PM

I would actually really like this to go 3D scanning. It would be like LEGO Digital Designer 2.0! Imagine that you could kind of half-build a MOC but you run out of parts, so you scan it and upload it to LDD, finish the model, then print out the parts-list so you can get the missing parts. Once you get them you use the the LDD instructions to finish your model. I know this is more AFOL-ish thinking about the future of this technology instead of focusing on the game aspect of it, but I would love to see something like this happen! 🙂

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gid617 June 20, 2014 at 5:10 PM

😆 Lol, that is something an AFOL would think of!
It would be pretty cool though!
Do you know how well life of George did? It didn’t strike me as though it was too popular, but I guess there was enough interest to warrant this.

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admin June 20, 2014 at 5:16 PM

I have no idea about what happened to George. I have never heard anybody talking about the set. I did see it at TRU once, but since I had no interest in it I didn’t really check it out. It was just too simplistic for me. But just today I read someone mentioning that their kids liked it and used it on long road-trips. 😛

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gid617 June 20, 2014 at 8:17 PM

I vaguely remember seeing it somewhere, but yeah, it was a bit over-simplistic. I don’t recall doing much more than glancing at it in the Club magazines myself.

This looks more complicated and a lot more like a game, which will probably be a plus for most people! Do I have it right that each brick is special to the set (has some sort of chip in it or something, I guess)? That would probably make it pretty expensive. It looks like the town master box says 258 pieces, but I’d guess it will cost 70-100 (going by size). That strikes me as a bit expensive for a game. Do you know what price they’ll be?

I personally am not particularly interested in the sets as I’m not much of a gamer, but the concept is intriguing.

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Jake June 20, 2014 at 8:47 PM

They will be 34.99, as said above in the article.

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gid617 June 20, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Oh, thanks. 😛 I don’t know how I can read it and miss such simple details!

Okay, not as bad a price as I had thought, but still a bit on the expensive side.

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admin June 20, 2014 at 8:54 PM

As Jake mentioned, the price is in the press-release, and it is $34.99. Don said that he specifically asked if other LEGO pieces could be used with the set and he was told that only the ones included in the set can be used, which seems to indicate – as you said – that there is something in the bricks themselves. It is not clear though how that works. I will shoot a quick email to Don to see if he knows any more. I’m not a gamer either, but I do find this more interesting than The Life of George. And as Don mentioned, especially the future of this technology sounds exciting.

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gid617 June 20, 2014 at 9:02 PM

Yes, I just re-read it and found that part. ( 😛 )
It is a pretty cool technology. In one way, it would be nicer if there weren’t anything in the bricks themselves, but I guess that wouldn’t allow for as good or fast of a render. The first time I saw the news (on Brickset or something), I thought that only the base was specialized, and it does seem like that is the main piece. Maybe it’s not a chip inside the bricks (which might be pretty expensive), but a code or something on the bottom inside that the base can scan (even through underlying bricks) and can then be scanned by the device.
Speculation…

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admin June 20, 2014 at 9:12 PM

Yes, this is definitely an interesting question as the bricks look normal, but there is obviously something special about them. Whether it is some kind of a code or chip, we will have to find out. But you do make a very good point about chips being too expensive, especially since they would have to put it in every single element. I will ask Don if he knows anything more about this and get back to you guys. 😉

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Håkan June 21, 2014 at 3:49 AM

Another possibility is that the app has been programmed only to recognize the shapes of particular bricks, although a chip or similar seems more likely.

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admin June 21, 2014 at 10:06 AM

That’s also possible, although from what Don said, it appeared he was told the app only work with the parts in the kit. But it is also possible that there was some mis-communication there.

gid617 June 20, 2014 at 9:07 PM

This was the part of the release that made me think of that: “Each LEGO FUSION experience consists of a distinct set of LEGO bricks, a corresponding free downloadable app and the new FUSION capture plate, a small brick building plate with a printed design that enables a smart phone or tablet’s camera to identify the size and colors of the LEGO bricks built onto it. In response to game prompts, children build vertically in 2-D on the FUSION capture plate, enabling the app to ‘see,’ import and transform the creation into 3-D in the digital world,” especially as it refers to the plate as a ‘capture plate’… although it does mention that the bricks are ‘distinct’ (something I missed the first time!).

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MASTEROFFIRE June 20, 2014 at 12:52 PM

I must say this is a new idea and a vary cool one!

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Kim June 20, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Town master looks potentially fun as does create and race. Resort would be too except that it’s “Friends” and I’m not in to Friends.

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BLProductions June 20, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Well, I don’t think the sets come with figures, so you could still get the set for the colors of the bricks, and not use that app.
And maybe they could be used with the other sets… unless that would be messing with the tech. 😈

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Kim June 20, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Yeah that’s true. I was wondering if one could use some of their own bricks that aren’t included to make different colors and building fronts in the town game.

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Håkan June 20, 2014 at 7:21 PM

My impression was that all Fusion bricks would work with the different Fushion apps (?), but that regular Lego brcks wouldn’t work at all…

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admin June 20, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Yes, that is my understanding as well.

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BLProductions June 20, 2014 at 7:43 PM

No, actually, you have to use the bricks included in the sets to build for the game. For some reason. 😐

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Kim June 20, 2014 at 11:12 PM

Well that’s too bad. Still would be fun to try the game though. I just got a a new tablet today and I’ll be looking forward to this coming out. If you can use them from each set then getting the Friends one would be fun to make different colors in town and still might be fun building a resort.

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BLProductions June 20, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Love the idea! I like the sets, too, but I do not have any of the technology the apps are for, so there is not much point for me to get them. 😕
I really hope they make it so that all Lego bricks are scannable. That way the sets don’t have to be separated, and you won’t really need the sets (beyond the base-plate) to build. 🙂

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Håkan June 20, 2014 at 6:01 PM

I wonder how this’d work, technically? Do these parts contain chips or something?

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Jake June 20, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Idk it just scans it with the camera

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admin June 20, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Don was told that the technology only works with the bricks included in the set, so there is probably something in the bricks themselves that the app senses and picks up.

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LK901 June 24, 2014 at 10:36 AM

I’m still finding it hard to believe that a smartphone or tablet would be able to scan these. If LEGO had been clever they would have released there own tablet/console!

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admin June 24, 2014 at 12:55 PM

The FUSION games come with an app that recognizes the elements in the sets. LEGO could have released their own console, but it would costs a lot more both for the company and also consumers. It makes much more sense to just create an app that people can add to the device they are already using.

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Chris July 17, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Well that sucks. I wanted to scan my modular builds into there.

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admin July 18, 2014 at 10:45 AM

That would be fun! 😛

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Strider June 20, 2014 at 10:55 PM

Cool, but definetly not a substitute for imagination. I may wait and see where the tech goes in a few years before maybe getting one.

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alec June 21, 2014 at 10:25 PM

dumbest thing in the world

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Håkan June 22, 2014 at 3:41 AM

This article seems to indicate that the app itself only was programmed to recognize a few basic bricks, apart from the ones bundled with the set.

http://www.theverge.com/2014/6/19/5821476/augmented-reality-lego-fusion-hands-on

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admin June 22, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Nice find. I will quote here the relevant part from the article for the benefit of others: “Each app is set up to recognize certain colors and shapes, but it will do its best to identify bricks from outside the set, finding the best fit in its existing list. You can’t, for example, make a rubber wheel appear on your castle battlements. According to Pedersen, though, you might be able to hang one up and see it turn into a window or any other medieval piece that’s roughly the same color and size.”

So it seems that each app is programmed to recognize only the colors and shapes in that particular set, which means that if in the town set there is a 1×2 pink slope, than it should recognize all other 1×2 pink slopes in your collection. However if you try to scan a 1×2 brown slope, and there are no other brown parts in the set it would have difficulty recognizing it. Or if you try to scan another size slope from your collection that doesn’t appear in the set, it won’t recognize it. Or as quoted above, it may mix-recognize it as something else. That should be interesting. 🙄

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gid617 June 23, 2014 at 4:58 PM

That’s interesting, and definitely a plus over it not recognizing anything beyond what’s in the set. And maybe over time the app’s capabilities for recognizing bricks could be expanded.

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Fikko3107 June 23, 2014 at 5:23 AM

Sorry I haven’t commented in a while. My place have been having a Wi-Fi blackout for about a week.

This looks…interesting. That Battle Towers one looked nice, though am I the only one who feel a bit tired of the graphics of the digital world? It seems similar to the ones you see in the videogames, but I feel like the use of brighter colors here makes it feel more, I don’t know, sort of unpleasant to look at.

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admin June 23, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Fikko, nice to have you around. Sorry to hear about the blackout. I don’t know what I would do! As far as the FUSION sets, this is the first wave, and I’m sure there will be more if it becomes successful. Little kids like bright colors, and since they are the target audience it makes sense. However if there is enough interest from TFOLs and AFOLs LEGO will likely expand the line.

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Fikko3107 June 23, 2014 at 2:52 PM

The more I think about it, the more I feel that it is just my brain making negative connections. For instance, for me at least, I loved the graphics of LEGO Marvel Superheroes the Videogame, which uses richer, more realistic colors. But maybe that is simply because I really enjoyed the game. The same is true with LEGO City Undercover, though with that it’s more on how I expect the game to be.

However, this coloring style, with more cartoony, primary colors, to me evokes games like the mediocre LEGO Island 2, for instance, as well as the plethora of comparatively lackluster LEGO games on the iOS such as the many Friends ones, the Chima Speedorz, etc. I feel the graphics for this LEGO Fusion thing is far too reminiscent to these, and I personally find that pretty unsettling.

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admin June 23, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Interesting thought. It could very well be as you said, however the fact remains that these sets are designed for little kids so don’t expect much from it. Superheroes, LEGO City Undercover, etc. were for an older audience. Actually I saw another review video of FUSION showing the gameplay, and it is pretty simple. Fun, but simple. If you have played a lot of LEGO games before you would not be impressed. The real uniqeness of FUSION is the going back and forth between the real world and digital world.

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Håkan June 28, 2014 at 6:42 PM

There’s probably technical requirements necessitating a limited palette, as well. It wouldn’t really be possible with Pixar-like realism for these games. (Or, Pixar might use bright colors and strong contrasts as well, but for them, it would mostly be an aestethical choice.)

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Scott Rolliaon August 21, 2014 at 4:23 PM

I don’t get it. I just got the racing one and it does NOT take a capture of the built car and import it into the game; you have to build it in the game first, and then you have the option of scanning in the same car built with Legos, but all it does is determine if it matches.

I don’t see the point. I can just build a car in game and race that. What is the advantage of buying the Lego Fusion set? It doesn’t seem to add anything and the manuals and in-game instructions don’t explain anything.

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admin August 21, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Scott, that’s interesting. I’m not familiar with the racing one and I haven’t seen a review on it yet, but with the other ones you certainly can build how you like and than scan it in. For example with the LEGO City set the only requirement is that the building has a door, the rest is up to you, as long as you are using pieces from the set. I’m not sure why the racing set would be different.

I would contact LEGO’s customer service to get some clarification, or if you have a LEGO store near you – that would be even better – talk with some of the staff there. They are very good at testing out new products and being able to respond to questions.

I’m going to keep an eye out for early video-reviews of the set and see if there is any more info. The BrickShow should have something out soon and they are very good with providing details like that.

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Desarae Lewis September 11, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Hi there, I am looking at buying these for my kids for Christmas… Here’s my ???? I have 5 kids that each have their own i-pod or i-pad or i-phone… Will they each need a set of these? Or will they be able to build, snap a photo, & use on their own device?

Thanks

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admin September 11, 2014 at 6:23 PM

Desarae, you don’t need five sets. You can just get one, download the app to all five devices, and let your kids share the sets, but not the app. (The app is free.)

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