There could come a day when humans have to compete with machines to prove who is smarter. As of now, humans are learning to become smarter by interacting with machines. The cornerstone of many a novel technology seems to be interactivity-something that’s particularly fascinating for kids. After all, kids interact with their toys, practically as though the toys are alive. And some of the latest smart toys are very much alive-when compared to the ones that came before. For not only can they talk with and entertain your kids, some of them can even recall your child’s likes and dislikes. Here, we round up six of the best smart toys around, and how they are changing the way your kids play
1. The toy that knows your kid’s tastes(and not just in food)
Hello Barbie is the most significant upgrade given to the eponymous doll ever since they came out in 1959. The latest version , launched in 2015 entertains your kids and can talk to him/her- more or less like a real person. Hello Barbie does this by using advanced voice recognition technology and is smart enough to have memories of your kid’s likes and dislikes. And yes, like many a smart toy worth it’s name, the Hello Barbie is also connected to the internet. Heck, it’s even connected to the cloud! This is one futuristic barbie that you’re looking at.
2. Learning from a supercomputer, via a dinosaur
One of the best smart toys around, this is one that’s educational as well as fun. The Cognitoys Dino is connected to IBM’s supercomputer, Watson. The toy is voice-controlled and is hooked to the internet. The best part is, it will mature as your kid grows up, making it a toy for a long time. Conversations with this dino can be quite intelligent as you may have guessed.
3. Walking through virtually real streets of Paris
Interactivity is the key to many a successful smart toy-something that toy brand, Mattel understood only too well. Mattel was the creator of the hugely popular View Master-those contraptions into which you can insert plastic frames to view 3D pictures. Now, 3D is practically cliché, so Mattel figured they better up their game-literally. They did so by approaching Google, and together they are set to enthrall kids with the next-gen View Master that’s a virtual reality toy.
The toys are set for shipping later in the year and use the same software that makes Google Cardboard work. In the upgraded version of Mattel’s View Master, there’s a slot into which you can slide in your smartphone and also an experience disk which you can place on a tablet and view. And the viewing experience is hardly an image that juts out of the screen a la 3D. Instead, here you have the experience of graphics coming alive-like the streets of Paris or the planets in the cosmos. An immersive experience which could also be a fun learning tool for your kid.
4. Scrabble-like never before
The commercial logic that toy maker Hasbro used when they came out with Scarbble Twist seems unclear. After all, you can easily download many versions of the popular word game in your smartphone. But the fact remains that the Scrabble Twist is an amusing contraption-one that scores high for using technology while at the same time not taking away a crucial element that makes Scrabble so much fun- the physical presence of your fellow players.
The Scrabble Twist has five small touch screens each of which displays a letter. You can tap on the screens to produce a word, then twist the device’s red end which locks that word. After this you pass the toy to the next player. The toy comes with built-in features to keep track of the words and to proof read words.
5. The video game experience, on your floor
In 2013, the startup, Anki came out with an ambitious plan to bring a new’ twist to the track-car toys. The plan materialised as the product, Anki Drive which hit the market in 2014. The toy-which incorporates intelligent cars on an intelligent track, went on to become the most sold toy in Amazon. But the company didn’t settle with that. They introduced an even smarter version of the toy, called the Anki Drive. The upgrades meant that your kid can build tracks of any shape instead of being confined to curved tracks. Also, the cars could be controlled with a cool user interface that can be navigated using an iOS app. With additional upgrades like more track pieces, intersection kit and a jump kit using which three different cars can jump off a ramp at the same time, it’s a whole new playing experience that your kid enjoys.
6. The tech-rich dinosaur. And oh, it farts too
One of the most popular smart toys around, this one takes the affinity kids have for dinosaurs and turns it into a much appreciated toy. The original version of the toy had balls for feet using which it moved around. The self-balancing property of the toy is thanks to the technology called True Balance Technology.
The original, called Dino Zester was a terrifying monster which roared, went into rages and stomped around, and the best part- you could control the monster using a smart controller. The Dino Jester is a wackier version. In this one, the controller is smarter and the monster, aside from getting angry and roaring also burps, farts and giggles. The combination of an adorable personality and the magnanimity of the extinct creatures on which the toy is based, along with the inculcation of technology is bound to make this even more popular among kids than it’s predecessor.
Buying toys for kids can at times be deemed as a way of spoiling them. However, if the toys are this smart, the question can be safely raised- “Wouldn’t they be better off playing with these toys than feeding themselves on all the junk that many T.V shows shove at kids’ face?” So, go ahead, spoil them without spoiling them.