Smart Toys, how AR and IoT are changing kids’ education

Childhood is the most important stage in the life of human beings when it comes to cognitive and creative development and toys are among the most important tools kids have at their disposal for stimulating their minds.
These objects, which come in different shapes, sizes and with different purposes, are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated, leveraging the advancements in technology.

The result is a completely new market space defined as “Smart Toys”, a market which is at the intersection of the traditional toys industry and the innovative gaming industry, as stated by Jay Wright, president and general manager of Vuforia.
In general a smart toy is an object which consists of a traditional toy with the addition of an app, a display or other connected elements, enabling interaction and communication capabilities.

The Global Smart Toys Market

The global Toys market closed the year 2016 with a strong growth and a market value of over 90 billion dollars, according to the NPD Group and the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI).

Source: Juniper Research

While the Smart Toys market is estimated to be worth 4.9 billion dollars in 2017, it is forecasted to grow up to 15.5 billion dollars by 2022, according to Juniper Research. An impressive growth rate!
These numbers clearly lead us to believe that there will be a strong interest both from the demand and from the the supply side, as increasingly more players are investing in this market.

Why are Smart Toys different?

Smart Toys allow to completely renew the playing experience in many different ways. There are Smart Toys created for entertainment and Smart Toys created with the educational purpose in mind. The latter category includes STEM-oriented toys. STEM, is an acronym for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”.

An increasing number of companies and startups are devoting themselves to the creation of STEM Smart Toys and there seems to be a strong demand from the market. SmartGurlz is one of such cases, it is a toy for helping girls learn to code in a very original way and it is one of the best selling toys in this category.

In general Smart Toys come into the form of puzzles, books, AR cards or cubes and even robot-like characters and drones. Technologies like sensors and Augmented Reality help kids to improve the interaction with the toys and provide a better understanding of concepts and shapes, which is very useful in subjects like geography, the animal kingdom, sports and sciences.

The Key Players in the Market

At the fantastic growth rates this market is exhibiting, it is not surprising that it is becoming a crowded area which includes startups like SmartGurlz, Reach Robotics and Sphero; smaller companies like Popar Toys, Crayola and Parrot; large corporations which have made a successful transition to digital toys, like LEGO, Disney, Mattel and Fisher-Price, just to mention some of the leaders.

This post is also available in: Italian