We have featured many smart devices here on Androydz from smart watches to smart helmets to recently, even a smart vibrator. Most of these smart devices have one thing in common, the brains behind each of these smart devices is a smart phone. Our smart phones today have much more computing power than computers from not that long ago. The folks at Supertoy Robotics, a company based out of Abergavenny in the UK, has decided to make a Supertoy Teddy, a smart teddy that uses either an Android or iOS smart phone as its brain.
The technology behind Supertoy Teddy’s brain is not new. Think Apple’s Siri or Google Now. In fact, one of the co-founders of Supertoy is the developer behind Jeannie, a Siri clone. What they have done is pair this technology with animatronics on a teddy. Supertoy Teddy’s mouth moves in synchronization with its speech. There is also a built-in speaker that amplifies the audio from the phone. The phone itself is hidden inside a padded, zipped compartment within Supertoy Teddy.
In order for the magic to work, the phone has to be connected to the internet. This can be done via a data connection or local WiFi. Like Siri, Supertoy Teddy uses the power of the internet, speech recognition and text-to-speech capabilities to simulate an intelligent conversation.
Supertoy Teddy is primarily aimed at children and it has filters in place to ensure that taboo subjects are avoided. However, teenagers and adults that are young at heart have not been left out. The child safe filters can be disabled and Supertoy Teddy can become bad-ass Ted, as in like the movie. In fact, Supertoy Teddy does look a whole lot like Ted. Supertoy suggests that Teddy be used as a source of knowledge to help out in homework and such. Why a teenager would rather talk to a teddy rather than looking up the information directly on the phone or a computer is beyond me.
As a toy, I think that Supertoy Teddy is a wonderful idea although personally I would prefer Teddy to have a child’s voice rather than an adult’s. It reminds me too much of Ted at the moment.
The animatronics is limited to just mouth movements for now although there are plans by Supertoy Robotics to improve on this and to add body movements as well in future models. We have already seen examples of much more advanced animatronics in current toys so this should not be a problem.
As highlighted by visitors to the Kickstarter site, in order for Supertoy Teddy to work, a connected phone has to be inserted into the toy. Of course, it would not be possible for a parent to leave his or her phone in Teddy all the time so Supertoy suggests using an old unused smart phone instead. A data plan is not required as WiFi can be used instead. The only problem with this solution is that Supertoy Teddy will become a whole lot dumber (both intelligence and vocal ability wise) once he leaves the home or is out of WiFi range.
Supertoy Teddy has raised over £46,000 out of its target of £30,000 and it still has about 2 weeks to go before the campaign ends on 22 Aug. You get your very own Supertoy Teddy by pledging £39 ($59) which includes free shipping worldwide. Delivery of Supertoy Teddy is expected to be around Nov 2013….just in time for Christmas!