Wearable devices, drones and talking robots are hot topics in the tech industry, and toy makers are trying to ride these trends with their latest offerings, the toy industry’s annual trade show revealed Thursday.
This year’s International Tokyo Toy Show, running through Sunday at Tokyo Big Sight in the Odaiba district, drew 149 Japanese and 19 overseas exhibitors.
The April debut of the Apple Watch brought a lot of attention to wearable devices, but many parents probably feel their children are too young to have such a device. Knowing that kids typically crave the same things as adults, Sega Toys Co. has created a smartwatch for the underage set, said spokesman Hiroki Goto.
The firm is pitching the Jewel Watch, which at first glance looks pretty much like any toy watch for girls. But a touch panel and an accelerometer bring it into the realm of high-tech.
While the watch does not have Internet connectivity, it does boast a number of video games designed to be played by touching its face and shaking the device.
“Because it doesn’t connect to the Internet, parents can feel safe to give it to children,” Goto said.
Tomy Co. is touting a similar smartwatch-inspired toy named the Play Watch, which comes with a camera.
Another hot topic in tech talk nowadays is drones, and toymakers aren’t overlooking the unmanned aircraft. This year’s show featured several flying toys aimed at taking advantage of the buzz surrounding remote-controlled flying machines.
Kanagawa-based Kyosho Corp., a maker of toy drones, was demonstrating multi-rotor copters. It said one reason drones are getting more popular is that they provide a more stable platform in the air than traditional remote-controlled copters.
Also in the realm of flying toys, Tokyo-based CCP Co.’s Nano Falcon DigiCam, drew attention with a 13-cm-long helicopter with a body composed of a video and still camera.
The tiny chopper, which is not a drone and needs full manual control, can also be folded up and snapped into the control unit to form a hand-held digital camera. The company made the first model of the minicopter, sans camera, in 2013, and received requests to add the capability to shoot photos and movies.
“When we thought of installing a camera, we thought it would be great if it’s a camera that can transform itself into a copter,” said Shogo Matsuda, who heads a product planning team at CCP.
Robots that can communicate with humans are another hot tech topic, and Tomy is jumping onboard.
“When we took a survey last year, we learned conversation robots were what the customers wanted most,” said Takayuki Kimura, general manager of the product planning group at Tomy.
Tomy is displaying its new talking robot Ohanas. The company claims the sheep-like robot is capable of carrying on natural conversations with people through a cloud database provided by NTT Docomo Inc.
With recent attention on chat bots like Pepper and Robi, people are warming up to the idea of having a robot at home and talking to it, Kimura said.
Toys in the spotlight:
- Kiwamen Zukuri: noodle-making with the kids
- Avex Music Kendama: Having a ball with DJ Koo
- Jewel Watch: It’s all on the wrist
- The Secret of Kuma-chan: Look who’s talking now