Smart, Connected Toys Take Center Stage

While adults ponder the perils and opportunities of the coming wave of connected things, from wearables to cars, young children already are starting off with IoT as they learn to speak.

While the recent introduction of Hello Barbie, with its Siri-like audio interface to communicate with children, has been in the headlines a lot for not all positive reasons, many other Internet-connected toys are hitting the market this year.

At the annual New York Toy Fair in New York, buyers got a glimpse of some of the Internet of Toys.

One of most innovative toy in the view of Consumer Reports is Dino by CogniToys. The dinosaur is powered by IBM’s Watson, which Dino connects with over Wi-Fi with an Internet link, and can have interactive conversations with children.

Because it’s backed by Watson, the answers don’t have to be scripted and Watson can calculate answers in real time.

And Hello Barbie now has her own smart house, since Mattel recently introduced the home that has lights and appliances that activate when Barbie enters the room.

There are many other smart toys coming, such as a tiny wooden mailbox that sits on a child’s beside table and can receive messages from a loved one. The messages are printed and come out of the Wi-Fi connected mailbox.

This is all happening while companies are getting the idea that The Internet of Things should be taken seriously. For example, a recent survey found that more than half (54%) of U.K. businesses plan to hire an IoT officer in the next year with the majority (68%) expecting to reap tangible benefits from their IoT investments this year.

In the middle of all this are consumers who are being barraged with ads for smartwatches, fitness tracking wearables and IoT features installed in new cars.

The key is that consumer expectations of connected and smart objects is now starting to be created in the crib, with all that that implies.


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