Enhancing Play for Children – RFID and Technology Toys

Hide & Seek Blue and Sprinkles photo I’ve been wondering when RFID would begin to take a hold in the toy market. RFID is a technology that takes advantage of small wireless computer chips that have the ability to talk to one another. One way of thinking about the technology is that if a shirt had an RFID tag in it, whenever you dropped off the shirt at a dry cleaner, the radio frequencies emitted by the tag would alert some other computer in the store; it would know instantly who you are and how you would like your shirt laundered without ever saying a word to anyone. RFID allows any two (or more) items embedded with the technology to know about each other, and know how far away they are from each other. RFID used within toy products has the wonderful ability to work with the way children naturally play, and also offers new and imaginative enhanced play opportunities. Imagine a toy house complete with furniture, different dolls of family members, pets and vehicles that all could be electronically aware of each other. As the dog approaches the boy doll, the boy could speak the dog’s name. As a car drives up to the house, its headlights could turn on. As the mommy doll enters the front door, it could speak “Kids, I’m home!”

Earlier this year I posted an article about the technology toy product called Hyper Dash by Wild Planet. This technology toy product was also reviewed in the New York Times this past month. Hyper Dash takes advantage of RFID to put a new twist on outdoor games like Hide-and-Seek. A new entrant to the “aware” toy category (though I’ve learned that it does not use RFID technology) is called “Hide & Seek Blue and Sprinkles” developed by Fisher-Price. The concept is that one child hides the smaller plush toy named Sprinkles while another child uses the larger Blue to to help find where Sprinkles is hidden. Both characters deliver audio clues as to how well the seeking child is doing during the Hide-and-Seek game. Though the product is not yet officially being sold at stores, it looks like Target will have an exclusive in the early weeks the toy is available. This toy is also popping up for sale on eBay.

Stay tuned for more noteworthy smart toys with and without RFID enabled technology making their way to store shelves!

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2 Responses to “Enhancing Play for Children – RFID and Technology Toys”

  1. Roger Shiffman Says:

    Love your interest in high tech toys and especially RFID. As a toy manufacturere in the field of electronic toys for almost 30 years, I appreciate someone interested in such product. I’ve used RFID, most recently in a wonderful music product, ZOUNDZ. Here is a link to just one of many articles:

    http://tech.yahoo.com/blog/samiljan/3240

    Roger Shiffman
    Zizzle

  2. Rich Fletcher Says:

    I’ve been an RFID developer for 15 years.
    RFID can add great value to a toy if used properly and inctructed properly. The problem is that RFID is wireless, so there is no button or switch, and as a result, is completely non-obvious to the user. Without clear markings or instructions, people have no way of knowing that the RFID is even in there. The Hyperdash toy mentioned above is great simple example. But the Zounds toy (which was beautifully designed — I own 3 of them) mentioned above had serious problems selling because no one knew what the heck it was or how to use it. The toy did not come with an AC adapter, so in the store, it was displayed with dead batteries, no working RFID, and as a result, it did not sell well. The Hasbro Star Wars RFID toy in the late 1990′ was one of the first sucessful RFID toys onthe market — more in Japan (Tomy, et al).

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