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Brief Published: 20 Nov 2018

3 STEM Toy Trends to Watch from Kids & Family Tech Expo

L-R: LittleBits, Curiscope, Klutz

Tech is becoming an increasingly touchy topic for families; 72% of US parents are worried about their child’s screen time (Erikson Institute, 2018). At NYC’s Kids & Family Tech Expo (November 1), companies highlighted mostly analogue toys with tech benefits, intended to teach kids STEM skills.

  • Augmented Books: British company Curiscope has partnered with publisher DK on an interactive book. Using a cardboard virtual reality headset and Curiscope’s app, kids scan in-book tags that reveal reconstructions of the Colosseum and prehistoric environments, among other things. For more on Curiscope’s offerings, see Visionary Tech: Wired 2016.

    Washington-based Novel Effect enhances picture books with digital soundtracks. After choosing which book to read, parents start an app that provides sound effects for each scene. The app uses artificial intelligence to follow voice cues, pacing the soundtrack to children’s reading patterns.

    For more on digital-analogue interaction, see Look Ahead 2019: Media & Marketing.

  • STEM Superheroes: To engage children in STEM learning, brands are franchising characters from popular entertainment brands. New York-based Little Bits highlighted its Avengers superhero sleeve, which kids assemble, then program to display light and sound effects. 

    London-based Tech Will Save Us presented an Avengers-themed version of its electricity-conducting mouldable dough, as featured in The Brief and CMF Industry View: Toys & Kids’ Product Innovation Update.

  • Modern Craft Kits: New York company Boolean Girl showcased its computer construction kit, which contains all the hardware needed to build a computer, along with coding challenges that help users develop mini computer games. An add-on pack shows kids how to code Minecraft modifications.

    Meanwhile, US company Klutz highlighted its STEM crafts, intended to promote science without screen time. Children can construct a gumball machine to learn about circuits, build a mini race car to understand wiring, or create an air cannon to explore physics. For more on analogue activities for kids, see Toy Fair New York 2018.