Augmenting Toys: The Future of Play
Augmenting Toys: The future of play
Smart toys, or connected toys, are rapidly exploding into popularity.
These smart toys include wearable technology and other children’s toys with embedded sensors to enhance and connect them seamlessly to the digital world.
When toys and other wearable technology are fitted with sensors, they become part of a constantly expanding network – IoT (Internet of Things) or IoE (Internet of Everything) as it is sometimes named, currently connecting over 6.4 billion devices including a wide range of items: cars, watches, toys, container ships, medical devices, household appliances, industrial equipment, and much more.
Now is the time for developers to jump in and create the next cool virtual reality or connected toy.
Imagine for a moment, real world applications of the connected technology and the internet of things are endless and farther reaching than anyone can imagine at this time. The age of wearable technology and of “smart” technology is just beginning. The internet of things is expected to expand to connect over 200 billion devices by the year 2020. As more devices and types of sensors are connected and the IoT is expanded, further purposes and benefits will emerge. One potentially huge area for increased connectivity is “smart toys”.
“Smart toys” feature sensors and are able to keep track of motions, gestures, physical activity and other data.
The toys are then able to use this data in real-time to interact with children as they play. The result is an entirely new generation of interactive play and toys, increased use of imagination, and increased physical activity and interactivity.
This prospect is an exciting one with endless possibilities.
It is estimated that 11% of toys that are around in 2018 will be “toys to life” ie smart technology toys.
However, despite growing interest in smart toys, there’s still a huge gap in connecting the physical to the digital for the developers of the toys. It’s all about how to get the sensors easily into the toy and getting real-time data to enable natural interactions where the technology is just assisting us in the experience and isn’t another thing we need to stop and mess with.
There’s a high barrier for companies and developers who wish to tap into this market and create awesome connected experiences. That barrier is usually a costly 1-2 years process of developing your own hardware, enabling it with firmware, algorithms, creating software interfaces, etc.. all before you can really build your application (e.g. the thing / toy / game you set out to build).