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Kids love their tech. And, like many adults, they’ve got high standards. They're not going to fall for a ho-hum app or a gadget with a pointless internet connection. That's why toy makers have been working overtime to infuse their creations with cutting-edge tech.
If you want to produce one of the summer's hottest toys, you've got to find clever ways to use Bluetooth, sensors, and augmented reality to grab a child's attention—not to mention parents' dollars.
Just keep in mind that, much like a laptop or a router, connected toys can expose your family to privacy threats, so think twice before sharing personal data with them.
Here’s a look at four cool tech toys recently on display in New York City.
$24.99 (age 8+)
On sale now, this flying disc from Tucker Toys comes with a built-in Bluetooth speaker. Sync it with a mobile device and send it flying. Not much heavier than a traditional disc, it features buttons that let you play and pause the music, adjust the volume, and change tracks.
Consumer Reports hasn’t tested the toy, but Tucker claims it's water resistant, has a range of about 105 feet, and charges in about 3 hours with the included USB cord.
$69.99 for a starter pack (age 8+)
Action figures aren't just cool, they're now “smart” as well. This toy from Tomy, available for preorder now, has built-in Bluetooth, which means kids can pair it with a mobile device or a desktop computer and use it to control the play in video games.
The figures operate much like those in the popular Skylanders system, but they take the tech a step further. Pokemon-like trading cards tie into the game through augmented reality. When you scan the card with a tablet or a smartphone, a 3D image of the character pops up on the screen ready to play. Snap a weapon onto the figure and it instantly appears in the game.
App versions of the game just went live and packs of trading cards are on sale now.
LittleBits Code Kit
$299.95 (grades 3-8)
Colorful and easy to snap together, LittleBits circuit builder sets have ranked among the most popular STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) toys on the market in recent years. This coding set—on sale June 1—adds a new layer, letting kids not just make their own electrical gadgets but program them as well.
Like other coding toys, LittleBits uses a block-based, drag-and-drop coding language to teach kids the basics of computer science while they build an electric guitar, a hot potato game, and other gadgets.
Educators get a 5 percent discount on the kit, which offers an online teacher’s guide and other classroom tools.
Ozobot Bit With Marvel Characters
$59.95 (age 6+)
These golf-ball-sized robots have been around for a couple of years, but in July, Evollve Inc. will begin selling two new starter packs, featuring characters from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Spider-Man.” Each pack includes a robot and “skins” that kids can use to decorate their bots.
Like the LittleBits Code Kit, the robots can be programmed with a block-based language, but they also respond to hand-drawn, color-coded patterns, making them accessible to any grade-school kid with markers.
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