The Future of Educational Toys

From Nintendo 64 to Wii and now CogniToy Dino – games for children have vastly evolved as technology also improves. No longer do kids have to blow the dust out of the block you inserted to play the game. Even Wii, the first interactive game, isn’t as cool as it first was when it came out, despite the various additions they’ve made. But Wii did jumpstart interactive educational games that other companies such as Leapfrog have “jumped” on to.

Elemental Path is hopping on the same band wagon and created CogniToy Dino – a Dino toy powered by IBM’s Watson smart computer. Kids can press its belly and ask the Dino questions. Like Siri, the toy then interacts with the child, recognizing their voice and learning their personality traits and preferences to answer them back. The Dino can tell jokes, ask kids how to count and spell. The kickstart campaign launched today and hopes to raise $50,000 to start selling the Dino’s for $99. You can watch how the new toy works here.

I like what the CogniToy Dino is attempting to do – take kids off their parent’s IPhones and IPads and teach them something. It’s an attempt to bring back teddy bear like toys, but combine it with the interactivity that kids are so accustomed to. The family I babysit for has two ipads for their four kids because one caused too many fights. Their three year old could unlock it, pull up the game she wanted and play it, despite the fact that she couldn’t read yet and still had a limited speaking vocabulary. Technology has taken over younger kids lives so educational technology is forced to adapt along with it.

It’ll be interesting to see how technology in games continues to grow. Maybe one day they’ll bring back some of the “old school” games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario and create interactive versions. In the mean time I hope the CogniToy Dino does well because I think it could open a new door of educational toys that does not include a screen but rather a new branch of toys that still look like “toys” with an interactive element.

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