This week's Cybershake looks at the increasing sophistication of toys for kids, including a talking globe, a virtual tutor, and a digital video camera built specifically for young hands.
Toys That Respond to Touch and Voice
It seems toys and gifts for children become more sophisticated with each passing year. And this holiday season's crop of high-tech toys is no different. With more powerful processors, many adding technology that respond to a child's touch and voice.
The Explorer Globe from LeapFrog Enterprises for example, offers more than just a visual representation of planet Earth. Touch any country on the globe with a stylus and it will recite thousands of facts about the country, including the time of day in that part of the world. The globe can even calculate flying times between two locations or compare the population numbers between two countries.
Another advanced high tech product is R.A.D., a remote control robot from Toymax. When the robot says, "I am at your command," it literally is at a child's beck and call. "He recognizes more than 50 different voice commands," says Brian Walden with Toymax. "He has an amazing personality [and] speaks more than 500 different words."
As sophisticated as these toys may get, they'll still require one powerful force that hasn't been mimicked by a chip yet: a child's imagination.
— Richard Davies, ABCNEWS
An E-Tutor That Grows With Kids
When Mike Wood realized he couldn't help his kids study as often as he should. it made him think. He thought: "What if we could take all the things that kids need to learn and make them into a game, sort of like Who Wants to be a Millionaire or The Weakest Link?"
Enter iQuest, a Palm-Pilot like device that can download from the Internet chapters of textbooks produced by educational publishers such as McGraw-Hill and Houghton-Mifflin. The iQuest can print out study guides from the textbooks and quiz children on topics such as social studies, math, and science using an interactive audio game.
Wood, founder of LeapFrog Enterprises which makes iQuest, says the handheld computer can download textbook information from several different grades. "These products can grow with kids," he says. "That adds a lot of value and it also makes them a lot more enjoyable for kids."
Parents will find iQuest at most toy and educational outlets such as Toy-R-Us and Zany Brainy for about $110 plus the cost of registering for Internet updates.
— Karen Chase, ABCNEWS
A Digital Video Camera for Budding Directors
Here's one way to encourage the Spielberg in your youngsters without entrusting them with your expensive camcorder. Intel is out with a package called the Intel Digital Movie Creator that's geared specifically for junior directors.
Jeff Aboddy with Intel says the digital camera is much than a traditional camcorder but comes with a software package worthy of a Hollywood studio. "There's a whole library of sounds, of music for the backgrounds, of special effects or transitions," he says.
Children can record up to four minutes of digital video on the camera's built-in, non-removable computer memory and download them to a PC using the camera's USB connector. Once they're loaded into the computer, kids can use the software to add special effects and animations to spice up the video.
The short videos can then be e-mailed to friends and family or posted on the Web. Intel's Digital Movie Creator costs around $99.
— Clarissa Douglas, ABCNEWS
Cybershake is produced for ABCNEWS Radio by Andrea J. Smith.