Creative innovations abound in a number of product industries. New technology with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data analytics have fueled these developments. Notably, one of the most intriguing product categories experiencing these effects are children’s toys. Equipped with all sorts of sensors, speakers, microphones, and cameras, new interactive smart toys abound. And many of these can be described as smart educational toys, geared to advance child development and learning.
Without questions, these new interactive smart toys are among some of the coolest products on the market today. But how can parents know which ones are well-designed and which ones aren’t? Just because various products are labelled as smart educational toys may not mean their high quality. Likewise, some of these new devices pose threats to children’s privacy and safety. (Dig deeper into the world of surveillance capitalism in this Bold story.) In this cool product innovation roundup, we’ll explore a number of today’s coolest new interactive smart toys. And we’ll examine just how great these smart educational toys actually are.
“Globally, there is an urgent need to provide education for all using AI, but first we must produce governance around smart toys and educational AI.” – Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of AI and Machine Learning, World Economic Forum
Defining the Coolest New Smart Toys
Not every toy on the market today equipped with AI is something a child should have. Artificial intelligence can enhance learning in many ways. However, it must also be used ethically and designed according to a child’s learning needs. In this regard, the best smart educational toys are those that have several key attributes. In fact, the World Economic Forum has identified four major features that new smart toys should have. These include privacy and cybersecurity protections, accessibility, innovative uses, and healthy play for child development. With these in place, safe opportunities for enhanced learning can best be realized.
With this in mind, the World Economic Forum partnered with Generation AI to create the annual Smart Toy Awards. Using the categories above, new interactive smart toys are judged accordingly before determining each year’s finalists. Such evaluations of smart educational toys are essential today as the industry has increased progressively in the last decade. In fact, the overall sector involving new smart toys is expected to reach $18 billion by 2023. Without some way to evaluate overall quality, parents will have an increasingly difficult time telling what’s cool and what’s not.
“Play is one of the places where we can capture a kid’s imagination. For a child to get interested in potentially having a STEM career, you want [to] capture their imagination.” – Tamara Moore, Professor of Engineering Education and Executive Director of INSPIRE
The Coolest Smart Educational Toys for 2021
The finalists among the World Economic Forum’s Smart Toy Awards did not disappoint this year. Several innovative companies showcased some intriguing smart new toys, and a total of 7 were included. Each of these smart educational toys offer children great opportunities for enhanced learning. And they do so with safety and protections in mind. Here is the list of 2021’s coolest new smart toys for 2021.
- Intelino – This innovative company provides children with an opportunity to learn coding at a young age. Through its Smart Train set, children give the train commands by placing different colored tiles on the track. In a similar way, they can also do so by using the toy’s app. In the process, children gain a basic understanding of how to code for specific actions. Not only is this one of the most interesting smart educational toys this year, but it’s also one of the most fun.
- Leka – This company’s product named Alpha was also identified as one of the best new interactive smart toys for 2021. Alpha is a robot for children with special needs, and it uses movement, lights, and games to encourage learning. Through various activities, Alpha promotes cognitive, physical, and emotional skills development. Likewise, it embraces personalized learning, which is certainly important for those with unique educational needs.
- ROYBI – Noted by Time Magazine as one of the best smart educational toys, the ROYBI robot also made the list for 2021. This AI-powered educational robot is designed for children age 3 years and older. It offers these children opportunities to advance their language skills while also helping develop basic STEM knowledge. This specific toy was recognized for its ability to promote personalized learning and for its early childhood educational advantages.
- LEGO – As far as the most creative among this year’s coolest new interactive smart toys, LEGO’s VIDIYO might win the prize. This toy allows kids to create their own music videos using augmented reality. Not only can they direct their own creative content, but they can star in it as well using LEGO characters. For the creative child at heart, this is one of the smart educational toys parents may want to consider.
- CoderMindz – Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this cool toy product is that it was designed by a 16-year-old. In essence, it consists of a board game that teaches children the basics of artificial intelligence. Children must train game pieces to navigate the board, and in the process, learn essential features of AI.
- Play Shifu – Augmented reality was utilized in several of the smart educational toys in this year’s list. This company’s product, named Plugo, uses AR to allow children to use real-world toys on a tablet to play games. In the process, children can enhance their spelling, math, and science skills.
- Twin Science – One of the coolest new interactive smart toys this year has to be the Autonomous Vehicle Kit by Twin Science. Not only do children learn how to build an autonomous, self-driving car equipped with sensors, cameras, and motors. They also can enjoy riding in it once they’re done. This has real-world applications, and it also offers kids a great deal of fun as well.
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