Wonderbook is a series of games and educational titles for the PlayStation 3 that make use of the PlayStation Eye camera and a blue physical book. Placing the book in front of the camera populates its pages on the screen.
This style of interaction is called Augmented Reality because of its combination of real world images on the screen with computer generated characters and architecture. The technique has appeared on a variety of platforms and simply requires that the hardware has a camera. The 3DS offered a set of AR games built in to the system and a wide variety of table and smartphone games offer the experience.
Wonderbook differs in that the AR markers, used to map the real world object to the video-game screen, are on the pages of its big book. This has the advantage of offering a familiar object as a way to interact with the game.
There are a series of different games and stories for Wonderbook:
As with other AR technology some effort is required to set-up the camera and lighting in the room to gain an optimal experience. The large size of the Wonderbook helps minimize this requirement and offers a reliable way to interact with the game.
Perhaps the best way to understand how these games work is to see a family playing them for the first time. Here is some footage for the Wonderbook Walking With Dinosaurs (and here's the unedited version of them starting to play):
As you can see the boys connected quickly with the Dinosaur theme, but equally my daughter enjoyed the story-telling and interactions here. Also, we tried the Harry Potter Wonderbooks out with the boys and the novel game-play was more than enough to get them involved even though they hadn't read the books or seen the films.
If you are looking for a different type of experience to share this Christmas, then Wonderbook could be ideal for you. If you haven't already tried last year's Wonderbook games then you may also find a bargain there.