Toys are one of those things that have been around us since the ancient times. Yo-yo and Frisbee like toys have their traces in ancient China and Greece. And if you think about it for the majority of the time toys have been a tool for entertainment. This means companies didn’t spend much money and effort in order to develop technically advanced toys.
But that is rapidly changing. As more and more toy manufacturers are realizing the importance of toys for the development of your kid, they are not hesitating to incorporate the latest technologies in their offerings.
Due to this, the flexibility of these toy manufacturers have increased multiple fold, which in turn makes it easier to build toys that cover various complicated topics.
For example, Sensor Alive is one such game by Thames & Kosmos. If we go down to the basics, it is a set of sensors that record temperature, light and sound. But, the way everything is designed and how the app uses the measurements to make virtual creatures to occupy a virtual world, makes this toy super exciting.
Another one would be Shifu Globe. Shifu is a new age company that has come up in the past few years and made a strong impact on the industry. It is probably the first company that managed to bring a sophisticated technology like augmented reality into the world of toys. Shifu Globe is a customized globe that comes with an app.
When you look at the globe through the app, you see it coming to life. This makes learning more interesting and engaging than reading from a book.
The previous two were examples were educational toys. But, it need not be about learning. Recently, I came across a video walkie talkie set which has an inbuilt wireless connection using which it communicated.
As you can imagine from the name, on top of voices you can also transmit video to each other. And, all of this can only be enabled using the technology.
And, the compact, light-weight and cheap drones that are available nowadays bring them into the category of toys.
These were just a few examples but if you go about looking for toys selling worldwide, you’ll find toys using apps, augmented reality, wireless connections, etc.
But, what does it mean for the tech world?
This change in trend is important for everyone who is connected to the technology world. It is estimated that toy is a multi-billion dollar industry and it will only grow with time.
If you are a programmer having a little experience with programming for products, it can give you an edge in this rapidly growing industry. Obviously, programming for toys can be different from the regular programming as it requires heavy interaction with the hardware.
For someone who is planning to start a new business, a great opportunity awaits here. The best thing about it is the fact that anyone can find a niche within a niche. For example, even if there are 10 toys dedicated to chemistry, yet you can build a toy about a subject within chemistry that has not being touched yet.
And, if you are a parent than having so many technological advanced toys in your arsenal can help you fill the gap that most of the educational systems leave behind.
Our education system focuses less upon practical and more on theory. With toys that I have mentioned before your kid can improve the understanding of subjects and topics by just playing.
If I had Snap Circuit set growing up as a kid it would have been much easier to understand various concepts.
Although, some of you might ask about various experiment kits that have been in the market for a long time. And, how are they different from these toys?
Yes, the basic concept behind those experimental kits and these technologically advanced toys is same, but they are more colorful and fun. I remember myself working on a sensor kit; it was so bland that I couldn’t make myself work on it.
Seeing them from the point of view of kids, you realise that presentation is as important as the content. And, that is why, these educational toys are attracting kids that may not be interested in science and technology.
Why not an app?
Many users might ask why a parent would spend money on a toy instead of downloading thousands of free educational apps on their tabs.
There are many reasons why a parent would choose a toy over an app. The most significant of them is ‘Screens‘. We now have screens all around the house, we have a screen on our phone, on our tv, on our watch, even our fridge.
But, we still don’t know the adverse effect of spending so much time in front of the screen. The few studies that have come out have a mostly negative tone. Like the one conducted on the usage of iPad and sleep. It was noted that usage of an iPad for long duration can adversely impact our sleep in a big way.
So, until we are certain about how using these screens might affect us, it is better to limit the usage to a bare minimum.
But, what lies in the future?
We have already seen the amazing technology integrated into our toys, now we should talk about technologies that can be integrated into our toys in the near future.
Boston Dynamics is a company that builds the most amazing robots, that are 100 times more human/nature like than anything you have ever seen. This means, within a few years we can expect some amazing robotic toys that are more sophisticated than the dumb machines we have nowadays.
Check out this video: https://youtu.be/hMtABzjslXA
Since past few years Space Startups have popped up all around the world, if this trend stays stable, then we can assume that toy companies won’t resist them too much to make toys that cover this topic. Although, you might feel that it is a too far-fetched dream.
However, if you look at how various esoteric technologies have become ubiquitous and cheap, we can imagine even a sophisticated technology such as won’t be out of the reach of common people.