Toys and the nature of play are rapidly changing! Increasingly children with connected toys in different locations can play together. First with online games, and now we're seeing it with toys. There is a large and growing library of input sensors and output devices used inside toys. Both online and traditional toys now offer the capability to be connected and played with together from different locations around the world. The infrastructure can even provide users with push notifications. Pre-built algorithms can be customized to process data from I/O elements in the toy to facilitate rapid toy development. In some cases a preconfigured set of actions stored in the toy’s memory are carried out by the toy and initiated by the app.
Easy customization and personalized over the air updates will be game changers as we're seeing from 3D printers and smart devices allowing new updates, and additional features and capabilities to be added remotely. Toys with cameras, recorders and recording features can instantly add videos and pictures with the click of a button to social media. The effect this will have on advertising and promotion is clear and exciting!
Software companies have come out with creative ways to develop Smart Toy prototypes in a few hours, collaborate with game developers and factories, and get real-time data analytics. Developers can now simulate and develop the virtual world of the toy. App developers can work on an open network to generate digital content that works seamlessly with toys and high-level Application Programming Interfaces will accept any programming language.
These truly interactive toys will continue to revolutionize and excite the toy industry and offer much more developmentally appropriate play for children as young as 6 months old to learn about their environment by physically manipulating and exploring their toys (Yes, that's right! 6 month olds are playing with iPads now).
As robots become more common, kids and the elderly will have virtual friends they can rely on for important needs such as administering medicines. Will robots become your child's 'friend' as they go from performing a defined task like playing chess, to 'playing' like a 4 year old? That may take a decade or two, but it's likely once that happens the jump from a 4 year old to a robot acting like an adult will happen much more quickly - some experts believe it could happen in as little as two years!
As cameras start to take 3D pictures, reportedly as early as next year, and Augmented Reality becomes more common, we will see these trends in toys as well. Augmented Reality holograms will depict a virtual picture of a plumber appearing as a 3D image in front of an untrained homeowner demonstrating for example, how to change a pipe. You will no longer need to read pages of instructions, you will be able to watch a holographic image and do it yourself! It won't be long after that before Augmented Reality technology will be seen in more toys! We're in for exciting times in the Business of Play!