Here is how you take a three-inch high plastic figurine and pull him into your 3DS, without wires, memory cards, or the device's camera. Just set your character from Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure on that portal, and aim the 3DS at him, and wait for the beam of light. When I did it, I swear I felt the slightest tug when I lined it up correctly.
"How's that work?" I asked. "Is that a chip, does it recognize the color, flash pattern?"
"Magic," said designer Ben Throop of Vicarious Visions. Meaning, why spoil the fun? (Or give away trade secrets, but I digress.) The technical answer is, yes, the infrared port on the 3DS is where the "magic" happens. We've already seen how this is handled for the console versions of Skylanders and gotten a look at three of the 32 characters for the game, usable across all platorms (and the game will ship for just about everything.)