Friday, March 27, 2015

Our future AI overlords

Computerized CogniToy dinosaur is the latest smart toy for kids

It may look like a mini robot dinosaur, but there is a new generation of smart toy from which your child can learn.

Wirelessly connected to the internet, the toy initiates and engages in real conversations with your childm powered by IBM's computer wizard "Watson" for cognitive computing.

The so-called smart toy, or CogniToy, is personalized to your child, and there are parental controls to monitor your child's progress.

"A 5-year-old can ask 100 questions a day," co-founder JP Benini said. "What if this thing never gets tired of answering 'why?' That's what the idea started with."

The company, Elemental Path in Midtown, put out a promotional video on Kickstarter to raise capital for the line of CongniToys.

"It not just has the ability to answer questions, but play educational games, tell stories, and even light conversational dialogue," Benini said.

Working with a prototype that could be offered in three colors, Benini and Sean O'Shea, two of the four co-founders, decided to make the smart toy utilizing 3-D printer technology.

"There are not many things that are universally appealing than a dinosaur," Benini said.

Design changes evolved from there into the current toy.

"When kids drag around that one toy that they love, they give it the name," Benini said. "They name their imaginary friends. Why not name their virtual dino friend?"

The toy, company officials stress, is designed for engaging play experiences and to grow with each child.

"We're not trying to replace parents, teachers, or tutors," Benini said. "We're just trying to give a supplemental source."

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