Wild Planet - Animal Scramble RFID toyLast year I wrote about a tech toy product called Hyper Dash developed by the toy company Wild Planet. Hyper Dash is an electronic game that allows one user to hide up to five hockey puck sized targets, indoors or out, and another person can search for these targets with the help of a talking controller. I thought this was a brilliant use of RFID, a technology that relies on small paper thin microchips that can be detected within short distances via the radio frequencies they emit. (So when will this technology become standard in all car keys? Imagine the time we could all save each morning trying to find them!)

This coming fall Wild Planet will release a new iteration of this technology enhanced play pattern specifically for preschoolers. The product will be called Animal Scramble and it relies uses the same technology, but will support a hide-and-seek learning play pattern using plastic animal characters. The talking controller is a giraffe and the small targets include a monkey, a parrot, an elephant and a tiger. The giraffe calls out different challenges for one or many different players to accomplish, like tag the animal that has stripes, or find the animal that begins with the letter “M”. The animals can be spread out across a living room, backyard, or even a larger space for more exercise.

While Animal Scramble and Hyper Dash are great uses of RFID technology, it feels like RFID is inching along when it comes to being used in new and original ways. I keep waiting to see breakthrough applications that rely on the technology but am surprised at how few new products take advantage of its possibilities.

The only other child-focused RFID product I’ve seen so far this year includes a child alarm system developed by Smart Target called Kiddo. This product sounds an alarm when a child or even a pet you’re watching (or maybe not watching) equipped with an RFID tag moves outside of a designated play area.

Immediately I see how this technology can be used in all the clothes I drop off at the dry cleaner, important books I wish to keep on a designated bookshelf, picking up luggage at the airport, and did I mention the part about car keys?

So today I’d like to congratulate Wild Planet for pushing the RFID envelope. Many more play patterns are yet to be discovered. I look forward to this space heating up. Thank you for leading the charge!

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