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The new Sesame Yourself AR app lets kids play with Elmo on your phone

A new app made from Sesame Workshop and Weyo allows kids to interact with their favorite furry pals via augmented reality. And the makers promise it’s 100% safe and secure.

The new Sesame Yourself AR app lets kids play with Elmo on your phone

Delighting the small set and the grown-ups who love them is the goal of Sesame Street Yourself, a mobile augmented reality game launching today. Many adults already know that toddlers love almost nothing more than seeing themselves live on their parents’ mobile devices. Sesame Yourself lets children dress up alongside their favorite characters to sing, dance, and play games with them.

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Adults who download the app have access to two of the most popular characters, Elmo and Abby. A variety of other favorites, including Bert, Ernie, Grover, and Cookie Monster, are available in separate packs for $1.99 each. It’s a collaboration of the Sesame Workshop with AR technology developed by Weyo, an interactive technology company specializing in building fun, safe, and interactive AR experiences for children.

Parents, caregivers, and other grown-ups will be relieved to know that the Sesame Yourself environment is ad-free and secure, and no data is captured or saved to the Cloud. According to Weyo cofounder Baz Palmer, privacy and security are aspects of any children’s app adults want to be sure of before even thinking about downloading. The app does not collect or store any personal information about children under 13. Images of children can only be saved locally to the adult’s device and will not be copied to Weyo or other third-party servers.

“The number one question we get about kids on mobile devices is safety and privacy,” Palmer says. Sesame Yourself has a detailed privacy policy written in collaboration with Sesame Workshop that clearly describes in easy-to-understand language—a rarity for a mobile app—exactly what happens to any images or data input into the app. “Weyo wrote the privacy policy in collaboration with Sesame Street. They scrutinized everything,” Palmer said. “Once the child is in the app, they are in a self-contained universe. Nothing they do can get out of the app. Everything kids are seeing and doing has been thought out and reviewed.”

Sesame Street, like other legacy brands, including Disney, Lego, and Hasbro, believes that AR is one way to give old toys and games a second life. In a recent article on the future of play, Wired said that unlike many apps for children, AR games keep kids in the real world. They can sing, dance, play games, and pretend to be their favorite characters instead of just sitting blankly in front of the screen. Coming soon for the Sesame app will be an interactive game where kids help Cookie Monster make cookies by gathering items scattered around the play space.

Sesame Yourself hopes to add more interactive AR games to engage young users, but right now, Palmer says the most popular feature of the app is the “dress up” packs that let little Sesame fans play stylist and add hats, mustaches, and glasses to their favorite characters and 2-D masks that frame their faces. “Kids love seeing their own faces,” Palmer said. “We’re all just little narcissists at heart, aren’t we?”

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