Avakai are wooden dolls enhanced with technology to bring a digital element to imaginative play. Featuring the classic styling of traditional toys, they are likely to appeal to millennial parents, who are concerned about excessive screen exposure.
Created by Berlin-based Vai Kai, the toys enable young children to access connectivity and experience technology through a tactile interface. When tapped the doll plays musical notes, while when gently stroked, the light in its body changes colour.
A wireless Bluetooth connection even enables the dolls to communicate with each other. For example, when held in both hands, they transfer a "hug" vibration to another doll, or they can enhance a game of hide and seek by emitting noises, light or vibrations, depending on the proximity of another doll.
The toys can also be connected to a corresponding mobile app for remote access – enabling a parent to send reassuring messages to a child when they're absent, for example. The app can also connect the dolls over longer distances, such as when taken to different cities.
Avakai's software and hardware are open source, enabling further interactions to be developed over time.
The blending of physical and digital worlds is second nature to younger generations, who are growing up immersed in technology. For further insight, see Digital Kids and Gen Alpha Attitudes. For more on how this transmedia approach is shaping play, see Disney Playmation: Augmented Play, Real-World Game Controller and Digital Play Gets Physical Upgrade.