I remember back in 1998 when the first action figures for The Phantom Menace were being released. One of the biggest hooks for those toys, in addition to being able to get a first-look at some of the first new characters being added to the Star Wars Universe, was the inclusion of stands that had audio chips. When you put the figure on the stand, a snippet of dialogue from the movie would play. It was pretty high-tech.

Things are on a whole new level this year as Disney and Lucasfilm prepare for Force Friday II, the day when new figures, toys and consumer products for Star Wars: The Last Jedi finally hit shelves.

“Find the Force” is an augmented-reality game that fans will be able to play as they go and buy movie merchandise. Using the Star Wars mobile app, people who find the right graphic in stores and scan it will unlock a character who will appear to be in the room there with them. Fans/shoppers can take photos or videos of the AR experience and share them on social media.

The promotion shows the potential that is being realized with AR technology. Augmented reality, unlike its more expensive and immersive cousin virtual reality, isn’t as cumbersome, requiring only a mobile device, not an entire hardware rig. That makes it more nimble. And, as Snapchat and other platforms have shown, people are enjoying being able to add layers to the real world, which feels more like the next evolution of the photo filters popularized by Instagram and others.

It’s also a savvy way to encourage and incentivize repeated shopping trips. With 15 characters being made available over the course of three days – and with some of those certainly exclusive to various retailers – Disney is giving people a reason to go out again and again. Even if they don’t buy something every time, they’re increasing their connections with the Star Wars brand.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

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