Target courts mobile users with 3-D, interactive tablet game at MN store

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In the world of serious retail business, sometimes trends demand a little bit of fun.

Beginning Thursday, the Target store in Roseville will be home to a retail game that blends the digital with the physical, the company announced, resulting in a 3-D interactive world that can be seen via a tablet screen.

The experience will involve using a Google Project Tango tablet – provided by Target – to view the store as a virtual winter playground.

So a customer will hold the tablet up, and the screen will drape the store itself in cartoony winter wonderland decorations – turning an aisle into a small igloo for example, or letting customers play musical icicles or have a snowball fights.

A "brand ambassador" will guide users through the 10-minute experience, the Star Tribune reports.

Here's Google employee Vikram Tank demonstrating and talking about the tablet game.

The feature is an attempt to capitalize on shoppers' use of mobile devices, Tank explains, both while in and out of the store.

It's a widespread trend in the retail industry, as shoppers frequently scan their phone screen in stead of the aisle shelves. Turning that into a brand experience is the goal, Tank says.

According to an August survey by business news website Internet Retailer, of all the time consumers spend online with a retailer, 60 percent of it comes via mobile device. The site predicts sales through a smartphone or tablet will reach $84 billion this year.

Roseville is the only Target store in the state that has the Google tablets, and is one of only four locations in the entire country to feature them (the others being in Sunnyvale, California; Chicago; and Dallas). They'll be available at Roseville 11 a.m.-7 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday.

Target is also offering a mobile game called Bullseye’s Playground for anyone with a device. For every game played, Target will donate $1 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (up to $1 million).

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