Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ultimate Wall-E Robot Being Brought to Life by Disney, Thinkway Toys

Disney are teaming up with Thinkway Toys to make Wall-E into a real
robot. The toy, titled Ultimate Wall-E, will retail at a stonking
$189.99 and will ship this summer. The robot will feature 10 motors for
movement, remote control, programming mode and obstacle, sound and
touch detection sensors for basic environment interactions.

The collaboration between the kid's entertainment company and Thinkway Toys and others,
including WowWee, will further result in a whole host of Disney
characters being reincarnated as a scary, robotic army. Next on the
list is Tinkerbell, and this time she really flies. The new toys will
be showcased at the upcoming Bay Area Maker Faire.

Article Link (Gizmodo)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Festo AirJelly

Article Link (Engadget)

Monday, April 28, 2008

I-Shovel: The Autonomous Snow Shoveling Robot

The I-Shovel is a new device that promises to automate this task—much like the Roomba and the Husqvarna lawnmower have done for other annoying chores. According to the project website, the I-Shovel can automatically detect snow accumulation and clear the driveway when it deems that the snowfall is significant enough to be cleared.

As for power consumption, the I-Shovel would utilize a rechargeable battery with a solar power option, which would make it eco-friendly and inexpensive to operate. Unfortunately for our friends in cold weather climates, the I-Shovel is currently in a prototype phase—but the designers are actively searching for partnerships to develop the design into a production appliance.

Article Link (Gizmodo)

What makes a design "Googley"?

A small team gathered to discuss these questions and define the Googley Design Principles:

1. Focus on people—their lives, their work, their dreams.
2. Every millisecond counts.
3. Simplicity is powerful.
4. Engage beginners and attract experts.
5. Dare to innovate.
6. Design for the world.
7. Plan for today's and tomorrow's business.
8. Delight the eye without distracting the mind.
9. Be worthy of people's trust.
10. Add a human touch.

Article Link

Video: Disney on Virtual Worlds as Theme Parks, Interoperability, Plans, and More

Fast Company put together a great video looking at Disney's range of virtual worlds, featuring interviews with pretty much all the heavy hitters in the department. Disney recently has taken some flak from users for closing Virtual Magic Kingdom without making it easy to take that community elsewhere. As the company ramps up for more and more virtual worlds across a wide age spectrum, it's seeing a definite need to make that a connected experience with smooth transitions.

"What that means more specifically is if you've got a buddy list in one of our games, it'd be nice if that went with you to another game," said Mike Goslin, VP, Virtual Reality Studio, Walt Disney Internet Group. "You're not playing the same character in each game because the worlds are different, but some important social things go with you. We think that makes the experience more fulfilling and also allows families to play games together or sometimes an older sibling can be in one game and a younger sibling in another, but they can still communicate."

The rest of the segment ranges from topics of evolving social media experiences as kids grow up, how communities differ according to context, some very adorable actual users, passive vs. active engagement with fantasy, and more.

Frankly, Shel Israel has put together one of the best stories about virtual worlds I've seen from the mainstream media--the Disney folks come off pretty well, too.

Article Link


Company Segment Amount Named Investors News Story
9You Virtual World/Casual Games $100,000,000 Temasek Holdings
C3L3B Digital Stealth $3,000,000 (may have totalled $4m) BlueRun Ventures
Chapatiz Youth World $530,000 Angel Investors
Dizzywood Youth World $1,000,000 Shelby Bonnie and Charles Rivers Ventures
EveryScape Mirror World $7,000,000 Dace Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Draper Fisher New England, Draper Atlantic and LaunchPad Venture Group
Fix8 Avatar Content $2,000,000 SK Telecom
FlowPlay Youth World $3,700,000 Intel Capital and Ambient Sound Investments
Fluid Entertainment Youth World $3,200,000 Trinity Ventures
Gaia Online Youth World Undisclosed, part of a $12M round Time Warner
Gizmoz Avatar Creation $6,500,000 DoCoMo Capital, Inc., and ngi group, inc.
Handipoints Youth World 800,000 Charles Rivers Ventures and Angel Investors
IGA Worldwide Advertising Network Almost $5,000,000 Translink Capital, Presidio STX, LLC (a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation), and ITOCHU Corporation
IGG, Inc. MMORPG Provider $4,500,000 IDG Technology Venture Investment
iOpener Mixed Reality $6,000,000 Triangle Venture Capital
Kadoink Middleware $7,000,000 Sutter Hill Ventures
Metaversum Mirror World "a significant multi-million-Euro investment" Balderton Capital
Numedeon Portfolio of Virtual Worlds Approximately $1,000,000 BankInter's Venture Capitol Group and Angel Investors
Outspark Publisher and Operator $11,000,000 Tencent Holdings, DCM, and Altos Ventures
ROCKETON Youth World $5,800,000 D. E. Shaw Group
Simmersion Holdings Platform 1,900,000 Blue Cove Ventures
Sparkplay Media Casual MMO/World with Games $4,250,000 Redpoint Ventures and Prism Ventureworks
Unisfair Virtual Events Platform $10,000,000 Norwest Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital
YOOWALK Adult World Undisclosed CITA Gestion and Angel Investors

TOTAL: $184,180,000

Article Link

Build-a-Bear Earnings Call: Virtual World a "Conerstone of Our Long-Term Growth Strategy"

"We know that kids are using the Internet for play in increasing numbers and at younger ages," Clark continued. "The concept of virtual world online communities that immerse children in a brand-centric environment is still very early in the adoption curve. As we create synergies between our real-world stores and our new website, we believe we will be able to attract new and returning guests to our stores. We also believe that Build-A-Bearville gives us a strong platform for growth in other entertainment oriented areas for our brand."

Clark went on to outline the history of Build-A-Bearville. After a launch in December, the site hit 1 million users in just one month. Clark now reports that in 4 months, there have been over 3 million avatars created. There are no fees outside of purchasing a toy at a physical Build-A-Bear Workshop, and the avatars unlocked with the accompanying codes have no expiration date, unlike worlds like Beanie Babies 2.0 or Webkinz.

The main advantage Clark sees for Build-A-Bear in the increasingly competitive youth market, though, is the union of physical stores and a virtual world. She says the company is still in the learning phase "with regard to what programs and features work best to create synergies between the online world and our real world stores"

Article Link

Innovation lessons from Pixar: An interview with Oscar-winning director Brad Bird

If there’s one thing successful innovators have shown over the years, it’s that great ideas come from unexpected places. Who could have predicted that bicycle mechanics would develop the airplane or that the US Department of Defense would give rise to a freewheeling communications platform like the Internet?

Senior executives looking for ideas about how to make their companies more innovative can also seek inspiration in surprising sources. Exhibit One: Brad Bird, Pixar’s two-time Oscar-winning director. Bird’s hands-on approach to fostering creativity among animators holds powerful lessons for any executive hoping to nurture innovation in teams and organizations.

Bird joined Pixar in 2000, when the company was riding high following its release of the world’s first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story, and the subsequent hits A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2. Concerned about complacency, senior executives Steve Jobs, Ed Catmull, and John Lasseter asked Bird, whose body of work included The Iron Giant and The Simpsons, to join the company and shake things up. The veteran of Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, and FOX delivered—winning Academy Awards (best animated feature) for two groundbreaking movies, The Incredibles and Ratatouille.

Ten days before Ratatouille won its Oscar, we sat down with Bird at the Emeryville, California, campus of Pixar, which is now a subsidiary of Disney.1 Bird discussed the importance, in his work, of pushing teams beyond their comfort zones, encouraging dissent, and building morale. He also explained the value of “black sheep”—restless contributors with unconventional ideas. Although stimulating the creativity of animators might seem very different from developing new product ideas or technology breakthroughs, Bird’s anecdotes should stir the imagination of innovation-minded executives in any industry.

Article Link

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fat Shark Wireless RC Glasses Let You See Through Your Car In First Person

We were too poor to play with RC cars when we were kids, but it seems
like it was worth the wait in order for these Fat Shark Wireless RC
Glasses to be invented. Strap the glasses on your face and you'll be
able to see through the actual head of the RC driver. Better yet, the
head can pivot and tilt so you're not always looking straight ahead in
front of the car.
Article Link (Gizmodo)

Monday, April 21, 2008

CrabFu SwashBot

SwashBot is what DIY robotics is all about… He may not be the most graceful little thing, but he sure is cute. He’s constructed out of spare R/C helicopter bits, including four servos, a receiver, a battery pack, some LEDs, and little exoskeleton bits. It looks like it takes some coordination on the controller to get SwashBot to go where you want him to, but there’s no denying his slightly spastic charm:

Article Link

Friday, April 18, 2008

Big Media Going 'Virtual' for Kids

A host of big media
companies and entrepreneurs are flocking to the kids space to create
new virtual worlds aimed at the 18-and-under crowd.

That’s according to a new report issued by the
industry trade organization Virtual Worlds Management, which says that
there are more than 100 virtual worlds targeted at kids and or teens
which are either live or in development. Within that group, the
majority of new worlds worlds are aimed at 'tweens (kids in the 8-12
year old range) - as 65 such worlds are have either launched or are in
the works.

While the adult-aimed Second Life has garnered the
majority of hype in the still nascent virtual world arena, developers
are likely seeing the fast growing audience numbers for kids worlds, as
well as the high price tags being commanded by successful startups. For
example, last summer, Disney acquired the kids-targeted Club Penguin
for an estimated $700 million. And since that time, the company has
launched a virtual world centered around Pirates of the Caribbean and
plans to roll out the girl-skewing world Fairies later this year.

Virtual Worlds Management recently hosted the second
annual Virtual Worlds Conference in New York which according to the
organization attracted 1,200 attendees. The group also publishes a
weekly online newsletter and blog, both of which provide news on the
fast growing segment.

Article Link

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sega Toys and ZMP team up for Miuro-like Music Robot ODO

ZMP's Miuro may have been doing the whole music-playing, rolling robot thing even before Sony's Rolly
stole the spotlight, but it had the slight disadvantage of costing
nearly $1,000. The company now looks to be changing that situation,
however, with it teaming up with Sega Toys to release a slightly
scaled-back but considerable cheaper version of the iPod dock, now
dubbed the Music Robot ODO. Among other things, this one drops the
built-in WiFi and camera of the Miuro, although it does hang onto the
LCD that displays the ODO's "emotion" as it's dancing, and you do get a
remote control to keep it from straying too far. No word on a release
'round these parts, naturally, but those in Japan can snag one for the
not unreasonable cost of ¥15,540, or about $150.

Article Link (Engadget)

Pittsburgh museum plans "largest national" robotics exhibition

Heads-up Pittsburgh residents and robot lovers across the universe: an
all new exhibition is coming to the Steel City next year, and it's got
high, high hopes. The $3.4 million display, which is slated to be
"permanent," will be housed in the Carnegie Science Center and go by
the not-at-all-puzzling title of "roboworld." The installation is
expected to house an "array of mechanized devices," and given that it's
being billed as the "largest and most comprehensive nationwide on
robotics," we'd say it's got a lot to live up to.

Article Link (Engadget)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Interview: BarbieGirls Drops Physical Toys for Virtual Content

When launched, it came
with a free-to-play section and a premium section unlocked by the
purchase of a Barbie-shaped MP3 player. The hope at the time is that
older girls who were transitioning away from dolls and into consumer
electronics would find it a happy medium. As Charles Scothon, General
Manager & SVP Girls Mattel Brands, and Rosie O’Neill, Senior Brand
Manager, Barbie Tech, explained in their Virtual Worlds 2008 keynote
it became one of the fastest growing virtual worlds ever, but now it's
time for a change: "You know, it did well, but we found in a lot of our
dialogue and our conversations and our research with girls is that it
was really about the content first and the stuff or the MP3 second,"
Scothon told Virtual Worlds News in a follow-up interview. "They liked
it, but at the end of the day it was about unlocking that content."

of what we found is that as our virtual world grew, 85% of the girls on
the site are 8-15," Scothon continued. "They’re more likely to have an
MP3 player already. That led us to the point that it became about the
content conversation. You’ll see the MP3 player out there for about a
year probably, but we’ll be more aggressive with the content and the

The model of selling toys to unlock content has been successfully
practiced by plenty of other virtual worlds—notably Webkinz—and, in
fact, there’s almost a backlash against subscription-based models in the current climate. More developers see microtransactions, toys, or advertising as appealing.

For Barbie, though, the girls liked the electronics, but the driving force was the content.

“They wanted the pets, but they weren’t necessarily playing through
the fashion plates,” said Scothon. “They were really playing online.
Where we were saying ‘Hey, it’s about music, fashion, and online
community,” what we really found is that it’s about online with the supporting sides of fashion, socialization, and creativity. Those are the three pillars that drive the experience.”

The play patterns remain fairly similar to when children pick up
dolls and dress them, not Mattel is just trying to focus on re-creating
that in a new medium.

“We look at how a girl likes to play and then translate that to
online,” said O’Neill. “We talked to a lot of girls and there were a
few things that really emerged. Social play is obviously very
important, so the way we translated that online was allowing girls to
make friends throughout the site, but also to have a really deep
experience, sending gifts and messages, and we give two ways to chat.”

those lines, one of girls’ favorite activities, says O’Neill, is the
makeover. It’s a social, creative effort. The new BarbieGirls allows
users to click on other avatars, give them head-to-toe makeovers and
exchange feedback.

“It’s a great example of how we merged that
social play and fashion play with the online world,” said O’Neill.
“From a topline perspective it is one of the most popular areas of the
site. We’re seeing a lot of repeat play with the elements of creativity
and surprise. It’s a new makeover every time.”

Article Link

Monday, April 14, 2008

Andre Kutscherauer Robot Art

Article Link (Gizmodo)

Stunning Hasbro Millennium Falcon Jumps Out of Hyperspace

This is THE Millennium Falcon toy that never arrived when every
9-yo kid wanted it in 1977: the 2.5-foot Hasbro's Star Wars Legacy
Collection Millennium Falcon, worthy of the most mind-blowing SW collections.
It's probably the most realistic Falcon toy you can buy this side of an
actual prop, with LEDs everywhere, sound, movable parts, and absolutely
every detail imaginable except real engines.

Article Link (Gizmodo)

G-Dog Robot Kit Is Robosapien’s Best Friend


You can find tons of humanoid robot kits scattered around Japan, but ever since the demise of the Aibo,
our mechanical four legged friends have been sadly underrepresented.
This G-Dog robot is part of the G-Robot family, which sell as kits from
HPI Racing. It’s 14cm tall and 40cm long, has 9 servos, a built in
battery, dedicated motion processing software, and a data cable. It
knows some tricks, too:

Article Link

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Paro robot set to bring its healing powers to the US

It's already become a star in Japan, and it now looks like the therapeutic Paro
robot is about to make its US debut at long last. That'll officially
happen at the Robo Business Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh this
week, after which the bots will be available "shortly" for $5,000
apiece directly from a new joint venture set up by Japan's Intelligent
System Co. and Walter Weisel, a former head of the Robotic Industries
Association of the United States. As in Japan, it'll apparently be
primarily targeted at nursing care facilities, but we can't help but
think that at least a few of the critters will find their way into the
hands of some slightly more mischievous individuals as well.

Article Link (Gizmodo)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cornell Ranger Breaks Walking 'Bot Distance Record

When a team of Cornell students put Ranger to work tottering around
the running track it just kept on walking, eventually achieving 45 laps
before its batteries died and the poor thing toppled backwards. This
5.6-mile hike smashed the previous 20-lap record. The kneeless Ranger
is designed to investigate aspects of locomotion so that robot walking
can be improved, and hopefully prosthetics for humans too.

It's designed to use gravity to assist its strides, tipping its feet
to spring off the ground much like our legs do, and the team estimates
it's about as efficient at walking as we are. Honda's Asimo, for
example, uses something like ten times as much energy, or so estimates
the team.

Article Link (Gizmodo)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Habbo's 'Breakfast Club'

Habbo Global Youth SurveyHabbo
released some research highlights the other day (thanks Paloma!) based
on surveying over 58K teens between the ages 11 and 18 from 31
countries and identified five clearly defined behavioral segments
amongst respondents. It shows just how much high school hasn't changed.

- Achievers: Ambitious, strong-minded and materialistic. They
value material success and while they have many friends, they do not
consider other people's feelings as much as other groups. [aka "a
beauty" and "a jock"]

- Rebels: Value gathering a lot of experiences in life and
enjoy a fast-paced lifestyle. Like Achievers, they want to become "rich
and famous," but are not willing to compromise on having fun in order
to achieve this goal. [aka "a criminal"]

- Traditionals: Value having an ordinary life and see
themselves as honest, polite and obedient. They are keen to help others
but are less ambitious and pleasure-seeking compared to other segments.
[aka "a brain"]

- Creatives: Share many of the same positive traits as
Traditionals, but with a focus on creativity. They place value in
getting a good education and being influential in life, but they are
also active, social and have an interest in traveling.

- Loners: More introverted and less likely than other
segments to identify with any specific personality traits. They rarely
see themselves as active or self-assured, but are more open-minded in
their attitudes compared to Traditionals or Achievers. [aka "a

Ok, I know they aren't exactly like our old friends from "The
Breakfast Club," but you get the gist. Other not so surprising findings

- Nearly 76 percent of teens globally use the Internet to instant
message friends, and, overall instant messaging was the most popular
communication tool in most countries

- Despite 72 percent of teen respondents' saying they have active
email accounts, results showed it is no longer a primary means of
communication with peers

- The most popular global Web sites amongst teens are YouTube and MySpace

- In the U.S., the most popular web sites amongst respondents were
MySpace and YouTube, followed by AddictingGames, RuneScape and Facebook

- Of those surveyed, 50 percent responded that they forward humorous
links and videos to their friends, while 30 percent regularly upload

- 74 percent saying that familiar brands guide their purchasing
decisions. Reinforcing the brand familiarity findings, global
well-known brands, such as McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Nokia ranked high
for both boys and girls

- Gender differences are more visible for example in clothing
brands. According to the results, boys favor Nike, Adidas and Billabong
as their top clothing brands, where as girls preferred Hennes and
Mauritz, Nike and Roxy

Article Link

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Nickelodeon Jumps On “Virtual City” Bandwagon: Nicktropolis For Tweens

Viacom-owned Nickelodeon previewed its latest interactive offering Monday, a “virtual city” called Nicktropolis, its most ambitious digital venture yet. The launch is strategically before relaunch, which competes with Nick’s properties and plans to include some similar social networking and gaming experiences.

Nicktropolis, which launches Tuesday, offers a variety of interactive
experiences, such as a social network, chat rooms and downloadable
video. And while Nicktropolis will eventually make room for
user-generated content, the site’s most prominent feature is its games
section. Nickelodeon executives offering the press a tour of the site
note that it was shaped, and validated by, the MTVN property’s latest
research study, Living in a Digital World.

While Nickelodeon’s audience is generally 6-14 years of age, the site
is aimed at tweens, particularly those 9-14. Nickelodeon also noted
that it has worked with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children,
a nationwide advocacy group, to ensure the site’s kid-safety features.
Aside from other protections, Nicktropolis also requires that each time
a kid logs in, parents are notified via e-mail. At the moment, there
are no advertisers on the site, though executives noted that there will
eventually be space for banners and other advertising. But more than
that, Jason Root,
VP of, said they want to take “baby steps” when it comes to
this issue of ads and how it will connect with other Nickelodeon web
properties. “We don’t believe in having one huge portal,” Root said.
“We just want there to be linkage among the sites and complementary
experiences. That’s why we made sure users can access Nicktropolis
through a stand-alone site as well as through In terms of
advertising, there are many things that we can’t anticipate when it
comes to how kids will use it. We want to see what happens and then
take our cues from that, as opposed to imposing a structure on it for
advertisers and users that might not make sense.”

Article Link

MTVN’s Nickelodeon Commits $100 Million To Casual Gaming

The MTV Networks’ Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group will invest $100
million in casual gaming over the next two years, primarily in 2008-09.
The announcement was made in conjunction with a keynote by Steve
Youngwood, the group’s EVP-digital media, at the Casual Connect gaming
conference underway in Seattle where various companies are jockeying
for attention. MTVN, which expanded its gaming with acquisitions like Neopets and Shockwave,
wants to be viewed as “leading” in the multi-faceted game space; this
is one way to make a lot of noise without another major acquisition.

Among the initiatives included in the investment:

Among the initiatives included in the investment :

-- the launch, planned for September, of ad-free subscription service
myNoggin, being offered with cable companies Charter, Cox and Insight
and through direct subscription online.

-- The transition of Neopets to NeoStudios, which will focus on
creating new virtual worlds and further developing existing ones. The
first new launch is slated for the end of 2008 with “a goal” of
launching a new one every other year.

-- The branding of Shockwave as “the” games destination for families.
Somehow that includes new opportunities for “prominent integrated

AddictingGames is getting into the casual MMOG business with AddictingWorlds.

-- The planned early 2008 launch of, dubbed “the first major casual gaming site to focus solely on teen girls.”

-- A subscription product for Nickelodeon called the Nick Gaming Club, “a safe gaming environment.”

-- 3D Slimeball. Now there’s the Nick we all know and love. Actually, it’s one of the multiplayer games for Nictropolis also gets multiplayer games.

The idea seems to be grab them as young as possible and keep them moving to various age-appropriate options.

Article Link

Interview: Steve Youngwood, EVP, Digital Media, MTVN Kids And Family: 1,600 Games For ‘08

Earlier this week, Nickelodeon said that it was developing 600 new games. Now the MTVN (NYSE: VIA)
unit is clarifying things a bit: it will host 1,600 new games across
its collection of kid-focused websites, 600 of which will be original.
Nickelodeon’s gaming library currently contains about 5,000 games, many
housed on AddictingGames, which came over to MTVN when its parent Viacom bought Atom Entertainment for $200 million in August 2006.

I spoke with Steve Youngwood, EVP, Digital Media, MTVN Kids and Family Group, about the the unit’s gaming push, which began last summer, when Nickelodeon pledged to invest $100 million in casual gaming through 2009.

-- Not a portal: “Our gaming approach is: we’re not a
portal business. We’re about targeting our audiences, and so, we break
out our web initiatives as well as our mobile efforts, for pre-schools,
kids, teen girls and teen boys. There’s some overlap there, but we try
to differentiate. The other big audience is made of up parents and
women. So we create destinations for each one of them. Our goal in the
world of search, where there are only about five sites that people
actually go to directly, we want to be on that short list. We love
search, but we believe we’re premium brands, premium destinations, and
our gaming philosophy flows from that.”

-- 1,600 games and counting: The number may seem like a
lot, but it’s all stemming from consumer demand - particularly teen
males, who always seem to want a new and different game. The company
hadn’t necessarily set out to meet a specific number, but as
Nickelodeon did more research, it found itself led to the 1,600 number.
Youngwood: “We look at what it means to be competitive and what the
audience wants. The pre-school audience doesn’t need as many new games,
but for the teen male audience, we launch about 100 games a month.
They want stuff that’s more disposable, quick in’s and out’s. Our
tagline for AddictingGames is ‘You think you’re going to play just
one.’ But 45 minutes later, you’re still there.’”

-- Looking outside: Another focus of its gaming strategy is
to allow more embeds on other sites. So far, AddictingGames users can
place games on other websites. Nickelodeon also wants to let users
email and other sharing methods. Youngwood: “We have one title on Xbox
Arcade. Simply put, wherever there’s a relevant platform, we will be
there: either mobile, Xbox Arcade, Wii-ware. All of these things are in
some form of development. We’re looking at Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) iPhone platform.” Nickelodeon, Facebook and MySpace applications.”

-- User-gen games: Users have always been able to upload
their creations on AddictingGames. But now, Nickelodeon is offering
some help for those users who don’t happen to be Flash programmers.
Nick and Shockwave - which also came over in the Atom acquisition - are
separately working on giving users game engine toolkits, each one
appropriate for its various audiences.

-- Virtual Worlds: Nick is currently developing three new
virtual worlds. These new sites are expected to be rolled out within
the next 18 months and will be aimed at kids 8- to 15-year-olds. They
will also likely be free similar to its 2.5D world Nicktropolis.

-- Mobile WAP sites coming: In tandem with the gaming
focus, Nickelodeon is also concentrating more heavily on mobile. The
company will be rolling out three mobile WAP sites over the next month.
The new mobile destinations are related to its Nickelodeon, The N and
ParentsConnect online brands, though the WAP versions will have
original content of their own. More details are available on our sister
site, MocoNews.

Article Link

Nickelodeon Expands Virtual Worlds; ‘Hybrid’ Choice of Ad-Support, Paid Subs Coming In ‘09

As Nickelodeon continues its gaming and virtual world expansion,
we have some more details about the three virtual world sites now in
development and plans to introduce a choice of paid subscriptions and
advertising for its existing 2.5D online city Nicktropolis.

Nick is creating a virtual world around its Neopets social net site that carries the working title of World of Neopia.
Existing animated property SpongeBob SquarePants is also getting its
own virtual world, while the other planned community is tentative
called Monkey World. To further drive home the increased
significance of creating virtual environments, its NeoStudios is now
the Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group Virtual World Studios. Monkey World and the SpongeBob virtual world are both in the conceptual stages of development..

In early 2009, Nicktropolis users will be offered a paid layer with
premium items, avatars and games, in addition to the site’s
free-to-play mode. The new worlds from the Virtual World Studios will
also operate under hybrid business models, with ad-supported
free-to-play and paid subscription levels as well—and will sell virtual

Article Link

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Children flock to social networks

More than a quarter of eight to 11-year-olds in the UK have a profile on a social network, research shows.

More than a fifth of people in the UK aged 16 and over have an online profile, the Ofcom survey showed.

Most sites, such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook, set a minimum age of
between 13 and 14 to create a profile but none actively enforce the age

Ofcom's survey of 5,000 adults and 3,000 children found 49% of those aged between eight and 17 have a profile.

The Home Office has been working with social networking firms and is
expected to publish a set of guidelines for the sites around best
practice, security and privacy on Friday.

The report is expected to recommend that profiles created by
children are set to private by default, or are only viewable by friends
nominated by the user.

It also suggests that social sites maintain a distinct contact page
listing contact numbers, such as 999, children can use to get help.

The Home Office guidelines are set to encourage social networking sites
to investigate age verification technologies and to give better
signposting to users about privacy settings, and warnings about the
implications of posting personal details.

Forty-one per cent of children had set their profile so that it was visible to anyone, according to the report.

But 16% of parents admitted they did not know if their child's profile could be seen or not by strangers.

Article Link (BBC)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

HPI's G-Dog

HPI Japan just conjured up GR-001's
new best friend: the G-Dog. The DIY, four-legged robot with a taste for
jugulars and what appears to be a sword for a tail stands just
5.3-inches tall and features the same control unit and sensors of his
bipedal buddy. G-Dog is expected to terrorize
Japan sometime in July for around $1,000.

Article Link (Engadget)

This cyberdog's all bite and surprisingly quick and nimble on that slick tabletop.

Article Link (Engadget)