Elemental Path Launches Toys That Grow Up As Your Child Does
The world today is much “smarter” than it was a few decades ago. Smartwatches, smart cars, smartphones, smart TVs, every other device is getting intelligent. But who would have thought even innocent toys would fall victim to the “smartness”?
Elemental Path, a company excelling in toy making, is now developing a line of toys that will be powered by IBM Watson, a super computing system by the company. IBM Watson would allow toys to have real live conversation with the children, and will evolve as the child will grow.
The toy line is being called CogniToys, and has launched a new toy, a smart dinosaur which can recognize speech and can “chat with kids, tell them jokes and answer a wide variety of ‘who’ ‘when’ ‘where’ and ‘why’ questions.”
The startup is even live on Kickstarter now, with 809 backers as of this moment, and has raised over $89,000 even though its initial aim was to raise $50,000 to put the toys into production.
The startup was co-founded by Donald Coolidge, JP Benini, and Arthur Tu, after they won a developer competition which granted them access to the IBM Watson technology. This made them the first toy company to be able to run the system.
“We felt it was the right time for something like this to happen,” explains Coolidge. “Kids are using iPhones and tablets much more than most parents would like them to, when the benefits are not very clear,” he says.
With CogniToys, the technology is inside the device and learns about the child, by engaging with him or her, and then includes a lot of specific educational content which is incorporated into the interaction. “It provides educational benefit, beyond just the play,” Coolidge notes.
The dinosaur was initially built through 3-D printing during its prototype phase, but when it will come to market, it will be in a soft texture, similar to LeapFrog tablet. The “tummy” has a big button that when pressed, begins the interaction with the child.
Even though it sounds heavy in actions, the technology is light inside the dinosaur. It only contains a microphone, speaker and battery, along with a little piece of technology that connects to the cloud.
“As a connected device, we’re really doing all the processing in the cloud. The benefit of that is that we can launch a more affordable toy,” explains Coolidge.
The toy is targeted at children of ages 4-7, and can be customized according to the age. For the younger kids, the toys focus on telling more jokes and while for older kids, they will be able to ask educational questions.