Triumphs and train wrecks


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A presentation given by Robin Raskin, Living in Digital Times on accomplishments and not in the kids interactive media business.

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  • In the early 90’s there were some terrific tastes of interactivity for kids ---especially from companies like Broderbund, Mindstorms, Learning Company and yes, most especially Microsoft, if you remember their Beethoven lesson with Robert Winters narration.
  • For kids this year, new and improved technologies make the experience interactivity on steroids. The big hero: fast processors and more bandwidth.
  • 3D will take another 3 years or so before the infrastructure is ready. Microsoft’s Kinect (be it bought, borrowed or stole) is brilliant. Nintendo Wii seems really antiquated in comparison – though the installed base and lower price will remain attractive. Motion and sound sensors built into toys give us an opportunity to interact fluidly. And the point of augmented reality games for kids is that they are part of the game. In games like Sony EyePet it’s downright mindblowing.
  • Intergenerational technology experiences are feeling very normal these days. Kids and their parents and grandparents are not afraid to join in the fun, whether it’s reading a story and sending along, making a video to share or having family play time. Like kids, the elders prefer simplicity in interface as evidence by Telikin – a PC that masks complexities for the older generation.
  • The trainwreck waiting to happen signifies the end of the childhood toy. Leapfrog,vTech, and Fisher Price have a serious problem. Kids would rather play with the family iPad than a clumsier, but educationally appropriate substitute. My philopsophy? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em . Watch these companies abandon hardware and turn their intellectual property into assets.
  • I like The Hub – a new entertainment site from Hasbro and Discovery because it thinks like you do. Do I want to play, watch, create --- big change in thought from “do I want Dora or Arthur”.
  • Not saying it won’t get there, but 3D is still a baby. The art of storytelling in 3D is virutally non-existent, doctors are investigating the effects of kids who wear 3D glasses and watch, content is limited, and if, like me you used a 3D camera to create an experience you know that it’s like watching cardboard cutouts.
  • From Tickle Me Elmo to Dance Star Mickey you can bet that in a recession year these $60 – watch me for a minute toys will become history.
  • The word “trans” will pop up always and often this season. Transgenerational toys let us all play together, transmedia means that Mickey will be on your TV, web, phone, toybox – with an equally irritating voice.
  • Triumphs and train wrecks

    1. 1.  Interactivity to the next level
    2. 2.  3D  Kinetic/Gesture  Motion Sensor  Location Based/Mobile  Augmented Reality  Bandwidth, Fast Chips, Graphics Processors
    3. 3. 3D: None as of Yet (see Trainwrecks) Kinetic: Microsoft jumped the bar Nintendo jumped the shark ? Sensors: SpyGear, Zamzee Location Based: Hidden Park Augmented Reality for Kids
    4. 4.  Zoodle – grandmother’s reading books  Design : Simplicity, Less is More  Family Game Nights
    5. 5.  Cartridges  Limited room to let seams out  Can’t compete with iPhone/iPad  Conjecture on next move?
    6. 6.  Hasbro/Discovery  PBS Kids  Silo’ed gates of entertainment
    7. 7.  Kids and eye convergence
    8. 8.  armickey/46426/
    9. 9.  Ultimately the theme of the 2011 holiday season marks the end of childhood toys as we know them. Recent surveys make it clear.  Topping the kids’ wish lists are iPad, mobile phone, and a new gaming system.