(Pocket-lint) - One of the weirdest and relatively surprising launches at this year's E3 videogames convention in LA centres around Sony's PlayStation Wonderbook. We hadn't heard much about it beforehand, but suspect we'll hear plenty in the future.
. It is, essentially, a large hard-backed version of the augmented reality cue cards you get with a PS Vita. Inside, there are 12 thick card pages, each featuring different triggers and, er, that's about it. The cover is slightly cushioned and, according to Sony, waterproof (for some bizarre reason).
However, as with all AR-related shenanigans, the magic – literally, in the case of its first title – happens when the book is combine with a PS3, PlayStation Eye and compatible software. Those flat, futuristic symbols become content-rich vistas when watched on a TV screen.
The first book to be available (by “the holiday season” - for Christmas) also utilises one of Sony's other odd-looking accessories, the PlayStation Move. With the Wonderbook and the rest of the circus enabled, it becomes an on-screen wand, and that's because the launch title will put you into the world of Harry Potter.
Sony has signed a deal with JK Rowling and her Pottermore venture to create a unique experience based on the rich, magical world she has been a tad successful with. Book of Spells allows readers/players to interact with the Wonderbook in order to cast spells, attend classes at Hogwarts and much, much more.
Pocket-lint was treated to a hands-on demo during E3 and we have to say, we're impressed. What amounts to, in effect, waving a stick over a piece of cardboard is turned into an amazing on-screen, highly graphical experience. It'll have Potter fans giddy with excitement at the ability to learn and use the magical concoctions that they've read and seen on film, in a much more tangible way than in previous licensed games.
And this can only be a good thing for the take up of the Wonderbook. Book of Spells will no doubt sell in the bucketloads. What will be most telling, however, is what Sony releases to follow up on it. Only then will this latest accessory be more than a simple gimmick.