Smart Toys Look To Make Appearance Next Year

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Toy Talk Smart Toy

 Smart Toys
Former Pixar executives Oren Jacob and Martin Reddy have formed a new company, ToyTalk, that turns the Toy Story premise on its head by having toys talk to kids. The company recently released a teaser trailer for their product, that looks to be a Siri-like app for kids.  
On November 1st, 2012 a video was released on YouTube under the account ToyTalk Inc showing a teddy bear that can talk and interact with children via an iPad app.  Remember Teddy from A.I. - Artificial Intelligence? ToyTalk looks to provide a talking teddy bear on the iPad that uses artificial intelligence and scripted voices in a Siri-like conversation for kids.

The video was titled, ToyTalk Trailer – Your teddy bear has so much to tell you. The description from the Toy company about themselves on the video is, “ToyTalk is a family entertainment company. Our mission is to create entertainment powered by characters and conversation. This is our first video. There will be more."

What is also partially evident in the video is that there is a physical teddy bear used as well. The girl appears to put the toy in front of her iPad to initiate the app.  It is also obvious that this will not be a Teddy Ruxpin-type interaction model.

It looks like the artificial intelligence toy company is growing fast and is already posting engineering jobs for AI core development and more. In the job listing Z6Mag found ToyTalk explains their company as, “A company with amazingly talented people trying to tackle a pretty radical idea. We are a family entertainment company. Our mission is to create entertainment powered by characters and conversation. ToyTalk is a venture backed start-up in San Francisco’s SOMA district. Here at ToyTalk, we offer competitive salaries, stock options, and a comprehensive benefits package.”

The CTO and co-founder of ToyTalk, is Martin Reddy who formerly was at the Artificial Intelligence Center at SRI International, the company that helped develop Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, The CEO of ToyTalk, Oren Jacob is a Pixar alumni, with involvement on movies like Bugs Life, Finding Nemo, Toy Story.  It appears that talking toys is a subject very familiar to the leadership of the company.

According to VentureBeat, ToyTalk is getting quite a bit of attention and money thrown it’s way. Venture Beat talks about talking Teddy Bears raising $11.5 million and lays out the details stating, “ToyTalk’s total capital raised to almost $16 million, following a $4 million seed round led by Greylock partners, with participation from True Ventures, First Round Capital, and angel investors.”

It appears that ToyTalk might not be ready for this Christmas, but next year, Santa may be delivering more than a few AI systems to children around the world.


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