Saturday, June 30, 2007

TU Darmstadt develops hopeful Aibo successor


While details on this one are admittedly scant, a photograph of a
robotic dog prototype reportedly displays the brainchild of scientists
at TU Darmstadt in Germany. The team had been working on said creation
for six months prior to now, and is finally ready to present the pup to
a "special audience" in a robot competition in Atlanta next week
Unfortunately, we've received no word on whether or not this canine is
actually being bred for the mainstream, but we'll be sure to let you
know if any litters crop up.
Article Link (Engadget)

Sega Toys' Robotic Animal Extravaganza

Sega Toys
announced that they're coming out with three new robotic animal types
for their highly popular Dream Pet series: a short-haired cat, an owl,
and a parrot.
Article Link (Gizmodo)

Investor with local ties still eyeing right 'recipe'

Koleman Karleski has been eyeing local startups for several
years, even going so far as to write a few "term sheets" -- the
paperwork prelude to an investment deal -- all to no avail.

The Pittsburgh native, who is a managing director at Louisville,
Ky.-based Chrysalis Ventures. hasn't given up, and this week the state
agreed to guarantee any losses on up to $20 million the venture capital
firm invests in the region.

Article Link

Friday, June 29, 2007

White Goods with White Board

When GE launched “Imagination at Work” as its new slogan to replace
“We Bring Good Things To Life”, the most eye-catching part of its
online campaign was a virtual whiteboard that visitors could sketch and
scribble on. Apparently, someone at GE had the smarts to transfer the
ad’s essence to the gleaming white surfaces of GE’s appliances. White
goods + whiteboard…? Witness the birth of the sketch-a-fridge.

Currently only available in Brazil, where it is sold as Risque Rabisque
(roughly: Scrawl & Scribble), the refrigerator is covered in a
special coating similar to dry erase whiteboards. Replacing the age-old
practice of sticking grocery lists and children’s drawings on the
fridge, missives can now be written directly on the appliance and
easily wiped off. It’s a simple innovation that cleverly integrates
existing human behaviour, and turns a mundane product into something
playful and appealing. Opportunities? When rethinking a product or
service, don’t just focus on features or haute design. An element of
fun can be just as much of a sales magnet, at a fraction of the cost.

Adding an interesting twist, GE isn’t the only company to launch
fridge-a-doodlers in Brazil this year. One of Whirlpool’s Brazilian
appliance brands, Consul, is peddling Aquarela, a line of sketchable refrigerators. Who peeked at whose design boards? If you know the answer, leave a comment ;-)

Article Link

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kobie: the fondling robot to the gods

Meet Kobie, the cuddly Koala on what appears to be life-support. We
think Babelfish translation says is best, "it is a fondling elder
brother robot of the nose Allah form which gives an emotional
stability." Indeed. By which we assume they mean the latest in elderly care robots. This one, developed by Korea's ETRI
can detect its owner's touches and react with a reassuring leg thumping
and realistic movement of the head and torso. That's sweet.

Sega Toys' MIO pet robot: might chew slippers, jugulars

Sega Toys has another in a long line of personal robotic pets:
the MIO. This deer/dog (deg?) sells for ¥9,240 in October or about $75
whenever it escapes Japan. Like any good robopet, the MIO features big
doleful eyes capable of expressing joy, anger, and grief in response to
your tender grace or heel of your boot. No doubt, the latest entry in
Sega Toys' dream pet series helps ease you into the grave by washing
away the empty ennui of your existence.

Apart from walking, "feeding" and dancing to rave music, the head and back have a touch sensor that reacts to your caressing. You know, so you can hump MIO instead of it humping your leg.

Its ears and tail can wiggle and its eyes can show a hundred emoticons that will tell your kids how it feels like when they left it in the closet to play Wii (hint: the icon looks like a fist with its middle finger extended). It looks like Japan is getting it first in October for $75, so it looks like it will be home for Christmas

MIOpup is Cheap AIBO-wannabe, Shows 100 Emoticons

MIOpup is Sega/Tiger Electronics' new robotic puppy after the iDog. This Jetsons-looking cheap AIBO-wannabe looks really cute.
Apart from walking, "feeding" and dancing to rave music, the head and back have a touch sensor that reacts to your caressing.
Its ears and tail can wiggle and its eyes can show a hundred emoticons
that will tell your kids how it feels like when they left it in the
closet to play Wii. It looks like Japan is getting it first in October
for $75, so it looks like it will be home for Christmas.
Article Link (Gizmodo)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mini-robot swims through bloodstream

Two Israeli scientists may have created the catalyst for a medical
revolution with their new project: a tiny, 1-millimeter-diameter robot
which is capable of crawling through human veins and arteries. The bot
can cling to vessel walls using small, powerful arms which protrude
from a hub in its center. Manned control is accomplished by using a
magnetic field outside of the body, and the robot is able to swim
against the flow of blood, as well as squeeze through a variety of
arterial openings. Right now the doctors don't know what the medical
applications might be, though they speculate that a large number of the
bots could be used to fight certain types of cancer.
Article Link (Engadget)

Blubber Bots Just Want to Eat and Be Your Friend - Who Doesn't?


There's nothing like a bit of LA weirdness for a sunny summer morning. LA-based artist Jed Berk is the brains behind Blubber Bots, rather dreamy autonomous helium
blimps that float around the place looking beautiful—rather like me, in
fact. And just like us hoo-mans, all they really care about is "food"
(represented by LED lights) and friendship.

Article Link

Robotic hand presented in Japan: death by Powerpoint

Remember that creepy robotic hand
we saw terrorizing Japan last week? Well now it's on the loose in some
conference room picking up eggs, shaking hands, holding a pencil and
crushing a cup with its super action Kung Fu Grip. No video of it
crushing skulls but we know what's really going on, we know. Its
purpose still isn't any clearer (manufacturing-only or also
prosthetics?), only that its functionality is meant to exceed that of
the human hand. See just one of many videos after the break.

Article Link

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mind Candy

Mind Candy designed an online world for global treasure hunts. In
the first version, concluded in February, 2007, individuals and teams
from around the world followed online and real-world clues to search
for “The Receda Cube,” which yielded a $200,000 prize for the person
who dug it up in a British park.

People link up in informal
teams with members from around the world, partly so they can have feet
on the streets where the live parts of the game happen.

Mind Candy makes money by selling fan magazines, clue cards, and corporate sponsorships.

Habbo Hotel

Online community for kids
Headquarters: Parent company Sulake is based in Helsinki, Finland

is a virtual community and game site designed for teens and preteens.
More than 7 million members in 29 countries create characters, furnish
rooms, and interact in Habbo “hotels.” The site's signature large-pixel
graphics make it stand out and seem child-friendly.

Social networking sites and online communities are getting so
popular and so crowded that I risk to loose my sense of direction among
such a crowded space. A map, this is a solution! Thanks Xkcd!


Since the map is probably online since quite some time, I know I owe
you also something fresher so, here comes the link to an article on the
latest Business Week issue: Children of the web.
It talks about globalization meeting Web 2.0 and about the emerging
opportunities (and risks) for brands who want to connect with the youth
culture. Looks interesting... I'm going to read it tonight @ home, if
in the meantime you feel like sharing some thoughts, leave a comment
and let's discuss

Article Link

Citizens Urged to Take Precaution as Tropical Storm Alice Heads towards the Virtual World

PASADENA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--At approximately 3:00 p.m. WST (Whyville Standard Time), a large
tropical storm is expected to hit,
the only learning-based virtual world
for todays digital
. Tropical Storm Alice
is heading towards the virtual world,
populated by 2.3 million 8-15 year-olds. Winds near the center of the
storm are already registering between 20-34 knots, or 23-39 mph, with
rainfall amounts of up to 20 inches an hour, never before seen on the
island. Whyville citizens are advised to brace themselves for what may
be major flooding.

Tropical Storm Alice is intended to raise awareness of global
climate issues
and is associated with the opening of the new Whyville
Climate Center
, which is sponsored by Penguin Young Readers Group,
the publisher of Al Gore's young
adult book, An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis
of Global Warming (Viking Children's
Books/Rodale Books $16.00; 208 pages; Ages 11 up). The Climate Center
will serve as the focal point for the discussion and further educational
, while significant virtual rainfall continues for at
least another 12-36 hours. This will result in widespread flooding and
destruction throughout Whyville, with considerable rubbish and debris
littering the virtual world. Whyvilles
citizens will need to join together in a massive clean up effort to
restore their environment over the next several days.

Article Link

First Artificial Life Zoo

Giant Prehistoric Penguins Found

Photo Gallery: Giant Prehistoric Penguins Found

An artist's rendition shows two newfound species of ancient penguin—Icadyptes salasi (right) and Perudyptes devriesi (left)—next to Peru's only living penguin, Spheniscus humboldti (center).

P. devriesi, which lived 42 million years ago, was comparable in size to the king penguin, the second largest modern species.

But at about 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall, the 35-million-year-old I. salasi is one of the largest penguins ever described.

Article Link

Monday, June 25, 2007

Social sites reveal class divide

Research suggests those using Facebook come from wealthier homes and are more likely to attend college.

By contrast, MySpace users tend to get a job after finishing high school rather than continue their education.

The conclusions are based on interviews with many teenage users of the social networking sites by PhD student Danah Boyd from the School of Information Sciences at UC Berkeley.

Broadly, Ms Boyd found Facebook users tend to be white and come from families who are keen for children to get the most out of school and go on to college.

By contrast, the average MySpace teenager tendeds to come from families where parents did not go to college, she said.
Ms Boyd also found far more teens from immigrant, Latino and Hispanic families on MySpace as well as many others who are not part of the "dominant high school popularity paradigm". "MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracised at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers," she said.

Teenage users of both sites have very strong opinions about the social network they do not use, she noted.
Article Link (BBC)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Xbox 360 Failure Rate: 30%, Says Retailers


We always knew the Xbox 360 failure rate was high, but the only time Microsoft's put any sort of solid numbers on the thing it was always somewhere around 5%. Retailers, on the other hand, have just reported a failure rate of somewhere over 30%.

Article Link (Gizmodo)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hardware companies: debuting something this fall? Read this.

Engadget has no shortage of readers who don't just love gadgets,
they're in the business of making them too. Well, this post goes out to
all the industry folk in the house. In joining the TechCrunch20
Conference's panel of experts, I'm charged with helping source some hot
new hardware to debut at the show this September. Presenters can expect
to hold court with the usual set of luminaries, influencers, and tech
journalists, but the best part is unlike other conferences, you don't
have to pay off the conference to demo your wares -- you just have to
have something really interesting to show. The rules? Simple: whatever
your company shows has to debut at TC20, and submissions are due by
July 6th.

Article Link (Engadget)

Congress calls for robot caucus

Apparently adrenalized by Bill Gates's rousing Scientific American manifesto AA Robot in Every Home, Congressmen Mike Doyle and Zach Wamp have called for the first robot caucus to convene in Washington. Spurred into action by the idea that "the robotics industry is developing in much the same way as the computer business did 30 years ago", Doyle hopes to promote robot awareness, work on robot policy, and educate Congress on issues in robotics to ensure "that our nation remains globally competitive".

Article Link (Engadget)

Fruit-picking robots closer to reality

It looks like Vision Robotics' would-be fleet of agriculture robots is
getting a little closer to reality, with the previous crude 2D sketches
of 'em now replaced with slightly less crude 3D models (among other
developments). Last we heard from the company, its scout robot was
still a long ways from hitting the farm, but Wired News is now
reporting that Vision expects to have a prototype of it ready sometime
next year, with the larger harvester bot expected to follow two or
three years after that. As before, the company plans to have the scout
robots plot out the best fruit-picking route, which the harvester would
then follow, grabbing hard to reach fruit with the utmost delicacy --
no doubt picking up a few humans' jobs along the way.

Article Link (Engadget)

Kawada HRP-3 Promet workerbot gets upgraded to Mk-II

It's been a pretty long time since we've heard from this guy, but the HRP-3 is back with a fresh coat of paint and a redesign that bears a notable resemblance to Optimus Prime. The new waterproof bot, shown showering, walking on a floor scattered with sand, and using a screwdriver as a human would, is meant to take on typical jobs at construction sites, such as driving (?) vehicles. Kawada hopes to court contractor clients by 2010 with the attractive introductory price of $120,000 per robot.
Article Link (Engadget)

Five Insights From What Teens Want

1. Integrity and attitude as key social network traits in the long run (and the rise of Facebook)

2. Teens aren’t buying much music. Can brands fix the music industry?

3. Consumer-generated-media (CGM) is the key approach to drive brand advocacy with youth

4. As a marketer, if you’re not creating utility you’re pretty much just crashing the party

5. The general view of privacy is shifting from anonymity to control

A Few Quotes from Teens:

A Few Quotes from Teens:

"I'm grounded right now, but normally I spend about 89% of my time on MySpace when I'm online."

- Female member of the teen panel

"I would describe my style as awesome, because I am the ultimate man."

- Male teen from the The N research presentation in context of Millennial high confidence

"The whole IM language has gotten out of control. The other day my friend said LOL to my face and I was like WHAT!?!?"

- Female teen from The N research

And some stats:

It’s like crack for youth marketers isn't it:

From Radha Subreamanyam of the N (who it's worth noting gave a killer research presentation):

  • "Chill" is the top attitude/lifestlye teens associate with at 40%. Others include Urban (23%), Prep (23%) and Hip Hop (19%)

  • African Americans and Hispanics use social networking sites more than whites (both at 84% vs. 81%)

  • Music as defining their identity (44%), with family a close second (39%)

  • Surprisingly high disdain for brands. 56% see them as creating
    negative stereotypes. But it's totally love/hate: "infatuation tempered
    with contempt."

From Michael Barnett of Fox Interactive:

  • Fox’s eight week old The “Never Ending Friending” study can be found online

  • 20 million teens 12-17 are online. That’s 83% penetration which will grow to 88% in the next few years

  • 75% of teens that are online use social networking sites

  • MySpace is the #18 ranked youth brand, ahead of iPod and Nike

  • MySpace teens spend more time online (9.8 hrs) than watch TV (9.2 hrs)

  • Combined use of SNS sites beats highest cable TV and magazine audience with teens

  • If those 14-18 had 15 mins of free time, they’re most inclined to use an SNS site (21%) over cell phone (19%)

Alloy multicultural research:

  • 46% of Hispanics in US are under 25

  • There are 800,000 new teens each month. The total teen population is 33.9 million (12-19 yrs)

  • Purchasing power from 1990 to 2001 amongst teens has increased
    189% in total. But between ethnicities, there’s been a 457% increase
    among Hispanics, 431% among Asians, 251% among blacks, and 176% among

Article Link

Generation Y Multitaskers Boost Media Time

Time Spent with Media* per Day among US Consumers, by Age, May 2004-May 2007 (hrs:mins)

US Teen* Internet Users Who Use Other Media While Going Online, 2006 (millions)

Although multitasking extends across all age groups, teens are generally more likely to multitask media than adults.

eMarketer Senior Analyst Debra Aho Williamson says more research
is needed to discover exactly how multitasking affects consumers.

"The media and advertising industries must move beyond simply
acknowledging that multitasking takes place," Ms. Williamson says, "and
support research initiatives that can establish which media are most
likely to be 'foreground,' or primary, media, and which are more likely
to be in the background. In addition, more research must be done to
show marketers whether advertising that only receives partial attention
is still effective."

Article Link

Percent of Time Spent Using Select Media that Is Shared with Simultaneous Usage of Other Media among US Consumers Ages 14-27, February 2006 & February 2007

Buzz Report: Licensing Show A to Z

4Kids Entertainment

A new multi-platform trading card game from 4Kids Entertainment and TC Digital Games will mark the launch of Chaotic (CPK)
family gets a new small doll size, standing approximately 5 inches
tall. Each CPK Lil’ Sprout comes with long hair, fashions and
accessories.  The property is also approaching its 25th
anniversary in 2008 with a licensing program of apparel, accessories
and more in development. First launched in 2006, the 3D animated series
Viva Piñata, about the adventures of 60 piñata species. Currently there
is a Microsoft Xbox 360 game for the property with more licensed
product on the way!  AKC’s products for dogs and humans,
including the following licensees and categories: JPI (treats, toys,
outerwear); Sherpa (pet carriers); Aspen (collars, leashes &
grooming tools); Sababa (UNO, Rubiks Cubes, “Best in Show” board game);
Giant (T-shirts); and GTO (jewelry). All are currently available at
more than 4,700 retailer locations. 
this month, based on the animated 4Kids TV series about a group of
teens that are fans of a trading card and online game called Chaotic.
Another new animated mysteries series, Nate the Great, will
debut on PBS Kids! in fall and have publishing, video games, toys and
apparel from a newly signed worldwide licensing agent. Also in fall,
the Cabbage Patch Kids (

Ripe Ideas

design partners are in tow for Ripe Ideas, New York, which recently
signed an agreement with designer Jackie Shapiro to represent the
French Bull brand, which will be translated into paper products from
Paperproducts Designs, including paper plates, napkins, guest towels
& Sniffs, Design Focus by Glitterwrap for gift bags, wrap &
tissue paper. In addition, Shapiro created a mass market
“sister” brand for French Bull called MOE 3. Ripe
Ideas will also represent MOE 3, with existing licensees including
Glitterwrap for paper plates, napkins, invitations, gift wrap and gift
bags, Windham Collections for quilting fabrics and iPop Clicks for
magnet sets and paperweights.

Article Link

Pleo ready for US pre-order: $349 for your eventual destruction

Check it US Pleo hopefuls, UGOBE is now taking pre-orders for the hotly anticipated dinobot. The price? Well, it's not $250, or even $300
as we were originally told. Rather, the cuddly killer is now pegged at
$349. Pre-orders can be executed directly from the UGOBE website or via
the usual array of on-line retail partners. Unfortunately, you'll have
to wait a few months before your Pleo can "inspire mystery and awe as a
companion" -- it doesn't ship until October. Plenty of time to ponder
the threat of inviting a robot and dinosaur into your home. Now head on over to Pleoworld for plenty of hot, groaning, dino-on-dino action.

Article Link

Lending Club Passes $100,000 Mark In Loans To Facebook Users

Lending Club, the Facebook exclusive person-to-person lending service has passed the $100,000 mark in loans to Facebook users.

Lending Club was an original Facebook Platform/ F8
partner having launched with F8 on May 24. The company closed its first
loan on June 6, and has since closed 27 more loans for a total of
$101,250. An additional $212,650 in loans will close in the next 12
days. More than $180,000 is currently available from 271 lenders with
around 10-15 new lenders transferring money to Lending Club every day.

The social networking angle of Facebook allows Lending Club to
leverage trust by enabling lenders to find borrowers within shared
networks. Lending Club uses technology to pair the two parties based on
shared connections without giving lenders direct access to the
borrowers Facebook profile.

P2P lending is a rapidly growing market. Lending Club faces stiff competition from companies such as Zopa, CircleLending and Prosper.
Although it may not be the market leader in terms of volume, Lending
Club’s growing success demonstrates the potential of Facebook as a
sales and finance platform.


Article Link

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Desktop Tower Defense Played 15 Million Times

Desktop Tower Defense, the addictive and evil game that Jeremy Zawodny wrote about and which subsequently led to me losing several working days to “testing,” has been played 15 million times since launching in March. So says the creator, Paul Preece, to the WSJ today.

Preece, who’s started his own company to create more games, says that up to 4,000 people are playing at any one time.

Preece, whatever you create next, I hope I never hear about it.

Article Link

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hollywood's toy ploy

In this summer's "Transformers," a truckload of Furby dolls gets blown sky-high by one of the film's giant robots.

meant as a sight gag, set up by toymaker Hasbro, which introduced the
chatty little creatures, as well as the Transformers line, to the

But Hollywood is hardly treating toys as a joke these days.

next few years will see everything from He-Man to G.I. Joe to possibly
Monopoly show up on the bigscreen. As the film biz runs out of original
ideas, nothing, it seems, is too much of a stretch.

In the last
two decades, Hollywood has gone through several crazes: U.S.
adaptations of French comedies, remakes of vintage pics, film versions
of old TV series, and adaptations of videogames and comicbooks. Now
studios and high-profile producers are buying up rights to dolls,
action figures and games, hoping their lasting popularity can prop up
the next studio tentpoles.

As the thinking goes, the instant
recognition of popular toys can only help an opening weekend. But
everyone involved is also nervous. Studios are banking millions on just
a brand name, while toymakers are risking their crown jewels to work in
an entirely new format, knowing that a bomb can cut into their sales.

sensations of the 1980s such as He-Man and Voltron are aiming to tap
into a wave of nostalgia for the Reagan decade. The generation who grew
up with these toys are now in positions of power in Hollywood, and the
hope is that that same age-group, a key moviegoing demo, will embrace
the bigscreen adaptations.

Given the success of the recent
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie ($91.3 million worldwide) and the
buzz around "Transformers," there are high hopes for producers and

Consider some projects in development:

  • Warner Bros. is mulling a CGI-animated film version of "Thundercats,"
    produced by Paula Weinstein ("Blood Diamond"), about a group of
    feline-looking warriors who have names like Lion-O, Panthro and Tygra.

  • Warners and Joel Silver recently announced plans to make Mattel's
    "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" as a live-action feature in
    the vein of "300." (The toy character, loosely modeled on "Conan the
    Barbarian," was first turned into a film in 1987.)

  • Paramount has "G.I. Joe" in the works with producer Lorenzo di
    Bonaventura (who's also behind "Transformers"). The Hasbro character
    was spun off as "Action Man" outside the U.S., and the film would team
    up both characters.
  • For girls, there's the "Bratz"
    movie that Lionsgate will release in August, and "Kit Kittredge: An
    American Girl Mystery," from HBO Films and Picturehouse, starring
    Abigail Breslin. The latter's based on Mattel's American Girl dolls.

  • Avi Arad, who is producing "Bratz," is also behind a live-action movie
    version of the black-and-white animatronic robot "Robosapien," from Wow
    Wee Ltd. A former toy designer, Arad will also create a new robot that
    will appear in the film and on store shelves. Crystal Sky Pictures is
  • Mark Gordon has his own giant robot movie with "Voltron" that Justin Marks ("He-Man") is penning.
Article Link

Dry Erase Fridge Makes Food Preservation Fun Again


I love the simple developments in basic products that come out of
nowhere and just make sense. Like this fridge, for example. It's got a
white board surface on it, allowing you and your spawn to doodle and
write all over it, putting shopping lists, notes, or little expressions
of your inner artist all over where you keep your milk and stuff.

And even better, since it's erasable, you can get rid of your tired
internet catchphrases before they get horribly unfunny and annoying,
such as the example on the above right

Article Link

Megatech's Avion indoor R/C plane defies laws of logic

You can thank the ominous sounding Megatech International for making your indoor-flying fantasies come to life
with their latest remote control offering, the Avion. With its
miniature 7.5-inch wingspan, petite 8.4 gram weight, and adorable
Spectrum-Link Optic-Control (which uses "Stereoscopic range finding"
for tracking, similar to human eyes), the Avion can supposedly glide
and twist through small indoor spaces -- a feature apparently in high
demand among R/C plane enthusiasts and precocious Red Baron-imitating
mice. Check the video after the break for smooth sounds, and an even
smoother hallway flight show.

Article Link

Monday, June 18, 2007

Retailing Tips: Order Strategically

8. Capitalize on Trade Shows. “I just got a whole new line of toys by going to the Portland trade show,” said Hoyt. Nearly half of the storeowners TDmonthly spoke with said they place orders at trade shows. Those who don’t, however, place orders immediately after returning home.

Article Link

Toys Gone Virtual

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Up Close: Girl toys that empower and inspire

Are today’s properties and toys doing enough to empower girls,
especially in a society that sends them so many mixed messages about
how and what they should be? Playthings asked several vocal industry experts to weigh in.

“If they want to be a fashion designer, great, but what if they want to
be a scientist or an emergency vet like my twin girls? Building strong
self-esteem, a platform of confidence around their own abilities and
that they can do anything in life, will ensure that we are helping the
next generation be stronger than the last.” Richard Tait, president of Seattle-based Cranium

“So much of our industry and specific licenses are geared toward boys,
but we are missing 50% of the population . . . I absolutely think this
is an area for growth.”

“I think it’s really important to find books, dolls, toys and other products that promote power and agency in girls,”

“In our culture, girls face significant barriers to self-esteem and
empowerment. One of the biggest…is an unrelenting assault on their
personhood that comes, frankly, more from marketers than anywhere else.
And it is marketing the lie that how they look is more important than
who they are, that getting some theoretical male to pay attention to
them is more important than their own contribution to the world.”Joe Kelly, founder of the Dads & Daughters national non-profit organization

According to Dr. Toy, aka Dr. Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D., a toy industry veteran of 30 years and author of Smart Play Smart Toys: How to Raise a Child with a High P.Q. Play Quotient, “Girls
traditionally have been left out of the action.” Boys’ play “is very
fully extended,” she says. “They have a lot more stuff to play with, to
act out their roles.”

To counter this, stores should strive to offer to parents a good
balance of products that provide girls with all options for play,
including active/outdoor play, creating and crafts, logical thinking,
science and exploring, building and social/dramatic play

“As we understand play and its ramifications we understand that it
requires balance and strategic times for introductions of varied
playthings. Toys provide stimuli and help to open the door—a prop to
new experiences” Auerbach says. “That’s why American Girl
is so popular. They have offered more depth—it’s not just a doll or
prop, there are extensions to it. If you get introduced to history
early, and you become interested in it, you’ve got an opportunity to
educate girls about the past. The same thing is true with science and
other areas of learning.”

Think Pink?

So what about all the classically
“girlie” products that are out there in toy stores, like princess
clothes, baby dolls and pink vacuums. Are these bad for girls? Not
necessarily, Auerbach says. It’s only when girls’ play is limited to
these items, and no other choices in terms of styling or types of
products are available, Auerbach says. “I really think that’s dumbing
down girls,” she says. 

“I think the color palette becomes very separatist and very demeaning
to girls, so I really think it’s healthy to get away from being locked
up in colors, to allow girls to have choices. I think this is something
the toy industry has been guilty of for a long time.”


“Green is a good color too,” Auerbach
adds. “Go into an American Girl store, I don’t even see the color pink.
That’s something very important for the toy industry to pay attention
to . . American Girl is very popular, and the public wants it, so there
must be something to this.”

Retailers can also look at options for providing those girls who
naturally gravitate to princess and fairy products with empowering toy
options that build their skills in other areas. Like building kits in a
Cinderella theme? “Absolutely,” Auerbach says. Since every category of
toys offers something important for kids’ development, it’s important
that there are appealing choices in all of these areas, she notes. “If
she’s only playing with dress-up, she’s not learning the way you can
with puzzles and with construction products. That’s part of the
challenge .

Kelly adds, “I think that the diversity is really important . . .
having a wide diversity of objects, even blocks that a kid can pretend
are people, because that leaves room for the kid’s imagination. I also
think a really important thing is that the toys and activities not be
mediated or electronic.”

“Girls these days like many varied activities from [crafts] to science;
cheerleading to fashion; playing parenting skills with dolls to being
teachers, dancers, athletes or movie stars—the sky is the limit and
today there are no limits,” Auerbach says. “Girls have interests in
just about everything and thank goodness these interests do not depend
on pink.”

Article Link

Kiddyzone opens first Doha outlet

SCORES of cheering children welcomed Fulla and friends,
characters from Spacetoon, to Doha as Kiddyzone opened its first sales
outlet in the city.

Speaking to Gulf Times at the opening ceremony
at the Hyatt Plaza, Kiddyzone operation manager and Qatar National
Trading Group managing partner Husni al-Zubaidy said the new Kiddyzone
store will offer a rich array of branded products including toys, kids’
garments and gift items.

The Kiddyzone store, a branch of Qatar National Trading Group, is the first of a series of planned outlets in Doha.

Article Link

What People are Doing Online

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Matsushita to sell Power Pedal robotic legs

Matsushita's already given us a robotic suit to aid in rehabilitation, but it's now taking its robo-upgrades even further, busting out a pair of "Power Pedal" robotic legs to give us humans a fighting chance in the inevitable robot uprising... and help disabled and elderly people walk again. Supposedly, the Power Pedals will give you seven times more strength, and be able to maneuver through difficult terrain without tipping over, thanks to their six directions of movement. Matsushita thinks that'll also make the legs particularly well-suited for use in disaster areas, which would seem to be a likely first test bed, given that they'll cost a cool 20 million yen ($167k) when they're available in August. According to Matsushita, however, that'll come down to just $30,000 by 2015, so start saving up.
Article Link (Engadget)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Motorized Lego Monster Dino


The amazing motorized Lego Monster Dino. He walks, roars and definitely doesn't need an introduction.

And to make this guy even better, you can reconfigure him into a spider or even a crocodile. But you will need a butt-load of batteries (6AA, 3AAA), $89.95 and a bit of time to put together the 792 pieces.

Article Link with video showing awkward motion (Gizmodo)

Tessera's Wafer-size Camera


Your cameraphone is about to shed some weight thanks to the folks at Tessera. They've created a minuscule camera that's half the size of the cameras used in today's mobiles. Dubbed the OptiML WLC, the new cam can even do auto focus and features optical zoom without any moving parts.

Article Link (Gizmodo)