By Steve Winter

If this year’s CES Kids and Technology Marketplace is the pulse of where we are today, it’s clear that developers, investors and brands need to pay closer attention to kids as a valuable vertical. The market – and the trade floors – are filled with clunky watches that are both an eye sore and cumbersome for a little wrist and pointless screen-based toys.

However, this year’s CES, did highlight some great new and upcoming launches. Parents wondering what tech to buy theirs kids should pay close attention to our finds below.

From interactive playgrounds, sleep and relaxation aids, robots that teach kids how to code and the best instructional software and toys for every age-group, the grandest innovations designed to empower children to learn and play smarter and more efficiently than ever will be on display this week.  Dozens of products will be found in all corners of the show, but the lion’s share will be housed within the Kids & Technology Marketplace in the Sands Expo Center.

And while companies such as Square Panda, a phonics playset that creates a new way to interact with the iPad, are among the young and emerging entities hoping to make its mark on the $84 billion global toy industry, several of the major industry players – including Lego, Mattel, Wowwee and Robolink – are also introducing new products, concepts and visions for the future.

“CES feels like a natural environment for us,” said Jason Beene of Hasbro, which is introducing their new Play-Doh Touch product that integrates personal Play-Doh creations into digital video. “Most people are intimately familiar with Play-Doh as a physical product but for the new Play-Doh Touch, there’s no better environment than CES through which to introduce the digital, physical connective experience.”  Available at select Apple stores and other select retailer, the product retails for $39.99.

Much farther down the food chain is Feng Tan, co-founder and CEO of Woobo, a Cambridge, MA-based manufacturer of a social robot for kids.  Shipping early this year with a target delivery date of Q4 2017, at a price ranging from $139 to $179, Woobo will provides children with a fully immersive experience of imaginative games, adventure stories and a full library of jokes, tales and reimagined versions of classic children’s games.  “It’s very much like a mixture of the Amazon Alexa and a traditional teddy bear,” Tan said; “And there is no better place to introduce a product like this than CES.”

The reasons, Tan said, are both varied and logical.  “To us, CES provides a great opportunity to expand and expose our product to several markets including investors, distributors, buyers and the media, and already we’ve met several from every genre.  But also, we’re an extremely young company, populated by recent engineering graduates from Harvard, MIT and Carnegie Mellon; so for us, it’s an opportunity to learn from the experience of others we have met here at the show.”

Clearly the involvement and participation of several dozen child-related product manufacturers and companies – from Woobo to Hasbro – seems to indicate that for companies of all shapes and sizes, CES can truly be all things to all people.

 

Steve Winter is president of Brotman|Winter|Fried, a Sage Communications Company, which is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

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