Teddy Ruxpin, the classic toy from the ’80s, had one big problem: Though his mouth moved and he “spoke,” his words were merely static reproductions of a recording. As a toy for geeky kids he was no good. The illusion of a genuine talking bear was thin. That’s all about to change, with a £30,000 ($45,000) Kickstarter for Supertoy.
The team behind Supertoy explains its motivation really did come from TV and film, where talking robots and toys are typical. The idea was to create a toy that could interact with users in a similar way, speaking naturally about a wide number of topics that would please anyone from age 8 to 80. The technology is already in place, with apps like Apple’s Siri, and remote servers accessed over the Internet can provide the processing muscle.
The toy can speak in 30 languages, adapt to user behavior, and can change the tone of its voice to make it sound emotional. It can even be asked to play radio or background sounds to help a child fall asleep.
Smart teddy bears aren’t as rare as you may imagine–Microsoft has been looking at one, for example. And a recent innovation from IDerma takes a different route to “smart” by incorporating health sensors in teddy bears that report wirelessly on a child’s vital signs.