Today’s generation of kids is evolving. They can download apps before they know how to ride a bike, and can text before they know how to walk. Technology is a tremendous part of a kid’s play while growing up, and companies who embrace this concept are also evolving the way kids play.
There were so many amazing technology-based toys that debuted at the International Consumer Electronics Show this weekend in Las Vegas, a global consumer and electronics trade show where companies exhibit the coolest tech products for the upcoming year. There was everything from artificially intelligent drones to a way to teach coding to the smallest of toddlers. Take a closer look at some of our top picks that were shown for the first time at CES:
Oh my god. If you’re a regular reader of our product reviews or have watched our YouTube videos, you’ll notice that every single tech pet product that I come in contact with is followed by me being really sad that I didn’t have any pets while I was growing up (or see here and here for some examples). WowWee is using the latest in wireless technology, telecommunications engineering, and a suite of advanced censors (also known as Mechatronics in the tech world) to create CHiP, the Canine Home Intellectual Pet. This artificially intelligent robotic dog will recognize its master and respond to commands using the included SmartBand. CHiP will play fetch and games with its SmartBall, such as soccer, and will interact with you in all the ways a real dog would. Best of all, CHiP knows when it’s out of battery and will return to its SmartBed to recharge. This dog is the whole package.
2. Meccanoid G16 and G16KS
If you had asked me when I was a kid whether in my lifetime there would ever be toy robots that kids could build, program, speak to, and interact with, then I would have thought you were straight from crazy town. But, it’s real and it’s happening. Expanding on its popular Meccano line from last year, Spin Master introduces two new editions of the Meccanoid robots. These robots were one of my favorite toys from last year and I am so stoked to see what they will do this year. The Meccanoid G16 stands 2 feet tall, and the Meccanoid G16 KS stands 4 feet tall, just like the last models. However, these will have twice the memory in their Meccabrains, more robot intelligence, faster voice recognition, additional programming capability, and more interactive features. They can now understand “natural language,” so they’ll be more interactive than ever before. I. CAN’T. WAIT.
3. Teach & Learn Code-a-Pillar
Hands-down the cutest toy in this whole round-up, the Code-a-Pillar will make coders out of tiny tots. According to The Verge, the toy from Fisher-Price uses segments of its body to teach kids the basics of coding, such as sequencing and programming. Each of the eight segments is a different color and has a different symbol on it. The segments connect with USB plugs, and when kids press a button, the caterpillar will move in the way that they put them together. Expansion packs will be available for purchase, and three more toys are planned for the new line. Stay tuned for when we learn more at Toy Fair!
4. R.E.V. Air
Fans of the R.E.V. line from last year will know that these vehicles used artificial intelligence to compete and fight battles with one another. This year, WowWee takes it a step further and takes the AI technology to new heights—literally. Featuring the latest technologies in Beaconsense Artificial Intelligence and Flight Control Systems, this app-based flight experience allows players to fly a quadcopter to battle an AI ground vehicle or vice versa. So, instead of two vehicles battling each other, it’ll be air vs. land. The AI quadcopter has the capability to attack, fire virtual missiles, and swarm at the vehicle. I’m so excited to see how this works!!
5. Meccasaur T-Rex
You were able to build the Meccanoid G15 as a dinosaur, but this is an entirely new fierce experience for kids (that they also can build themselves)! Also part of Spin Master‘s Meccano line, this Meccasaur T-Rex is an interactive, fully-programable robotic dinosaur that may look intimidating, but it’s a kid’s new best friend. The Meccasaur T-Rex can answer questions, play autonomously, and has multiple play modes and programmable features. It even has a security mode to help guard their things! Will all the dinosaur fans please stand up?!
6. Star Wars Force Band
If there’s one thing I could ever wish to happen to me, it’s the ability to use the Force. And now it’s possible. Sort of. Last year, Sphero introduced BB-8, an app-enabled droid that looks like it just came out of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie. And now, this wearable band will allow fans to use hand gestures to control the little droid. Sphero will also release a BB-8 to look a little more rugged, like post-battles in the movie, later this year.
7. WeDo 2.0
One of the best parts about tech toys is how easy it is to mask that kids are learning without even knowing it—I like to call this ninja learning. Lego Education has revamped its WeDo line, giving kids the opportunity to learn about concepts in science in a whole new, engaging way. WeDo 2.0 combines classic Lego bricks, classroom-friendly software, and projects linked to next generation science standards. Kids can make robots while being introduced to problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills in engineering, physical, life, earth, and space sciences. WeDo 2.0 embraces 21st century skill development to make science come to life for young ones.
8. Air Hogs Connect
Spin Master has always brought the latest technology and licenses to its Air Hogs brand, and this year it’s going to a completely new levels. Air Hogs Connect is a hybrid between a tangible R/C toy and digital game. So, while players fly an actual Air Hogs Quad, they’ll also engage in missions and completing goals in the companion video game. The game’s universe is projected in augmented reality though a phone or tablet, which is used to fly the R/C drone over a custom mat that can be placed anywhere. Players will save the planet from invading alien forces and complete missions and challenges such as shooting aliens, rescuing people, and putting out fires.
One of last year’s buzzwords in kid tech toys was drones. If you didn’t think they could get any cooler than they are now, then you’re in for a real treat. LUMI, from WowWee, combines exciting drone gaming along with taking all of the fuss out of flying an indoor quadcopter (for example crashing it, for example me). With any smart device, you can select motions, maneuvers, stunts, or take total control of it and easily fly it. Different game modes include challenging the player to follow sequences of flashing lights and music while LUMI flies and dances in the air, also reacting to your performance. You can also act as the choreographer you’ve always wanted to be and record your dance moves and share them with friends on social media. Did you hear that in the distance? It’s the future.
10. Meccano Micronoid
The last of Spin Master‘s Meccano line that was revealed at CES is the Meccano Micronoid. For kids who want have all of the fun of programming a robot on a smaller scale, this is the perfect toy for them. Micronoids come in three different colors and be sure to charm, delight, and engage kids. There are two ways to program each Micronoids and their personalities will shine in multiple play modes. They can also be programmed to answer, dance, sing, navigate obstacle courses, and interact with each other.
11. Pocket Drone
Fly a drone and then put it in your pocket. Yeah, you read that right. Odyssey Toys introduces the Pocket Drone, the first collapsing video drone that’s lightweight and and fits in your pocket. It features collapsible blades that can be tucked inside the unit for easy transport with its carry case and remote. The High-Definition camera will capture video and pictures, which will be saved directly to the included Micro SD card. The Pocket Drone features advanced gyro technology to ensure indoor and outdoor operation to have increased stability, Wi-Fi capabilities, USB charging, and LED lights for night flying.
Not the super suit you were thinking of from The Incredibles. This wearable gaming platform from MadRat Games reduces screen time, increases social interaction, and keeps kids active. I’m really excited about this because it looks exactly just like laser tag—except you can play it anywhere. The SuperSuit is made up of a vest and a glove, and players can interact with each other using triggers to send beams. Parents can monitor kids’ fitness data on the accompanying smartphone app.
13. Edwin the Duck
Pi lab introduces Edwin, the smartest duck kids will ever own. Using the companion app, kids can control Edwin on the screen using the duck IRL. The app features educational games, adventure stories, and original songs. Best of all, the Sleepy Time app allows kids to play lullabies, sleep sounds, and adjust the brightness of Edwin’s night light. And yes, kids can play with Edwin underwater. If you had the Little Richard version of “Rubber Duckie” stuck in your head the whole time you were reading this, then me too.
— Raymond Wong (@raywongy) January 7, 2016
I’m adding this one as a bonus because someone riding one-handed on a hoverboard is one of the best videos you’ll see all day. Hoverboards quickly became THE item to have, and the Hovertrax DLX from Razor became available to consumers in December. Click here for the low down on hoverboards, safety tips, and why the Hovertrax is our top pick!