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Brief Published: 17 Nov 2015

Smart Toy Add-On


French start-up Smarty Crew is launching a gadget that turns a child's favourite teddy bear into a smart-toy companion.

Oliba is a small, owl-shaped attachment that straps to any soft toy and communicates with a mobile app. A built-in speaker lets children listen to stories that have been picked from Oliba's library app or pre-recorded by parents. The range of stories, which can be updated as the child grows up, is aimed at Gen Alpha (nought to five-year-olds).

The attachment also doubles as a sleep aid by gently glowing while playing lullabies. Kids can manually control Oliba by pressing it for a few seconds – for instance, if they wake up in the night. The app tracks the toy's location on a map to prevent it from being left behind. It can alert parents when they are over 100 feet away.

Oliba is currently raising money on crowdfunding site Indiegogo and is expected to retail in June 2016 for around $69. It is the latest product to augment physical toys with digital smarts, as growing numbers of parents try to limit their children's screen time.

For more on the expectations and habits of those born on the web, see Gen Alpha Attitudes. For more on the opportunities surrounding this generation and its smart toys, see Toy Worlds: Targeting Gen Me.