This is part of a series of articles that looks at entrepreneurs hoping to get their ideas off the ground through crowdfunding. At the time of writing, each of these innovations is currently seeking funding.
The most exciting new toys use technology to enhance physical play rather than replace it, Hackaball and Moff are two such products. Now, Avakai companions are smart wooden dolls that use Bluetooth technology and sensors to let children connect to each other from afar without screens.
Avakai are wooden figurines which aim to bridge the gap between traditional toys and mobile devices. The toys are inspired by Russian Matryoshka dolls and made from locally sourced, long-lasting materials. Within them contain technology including Bluetooth, and touch and movement sensors, enabling them to react to the player’s actions — the dolls communicate with each other through sounds, colored light and haptic feedback. They convey emotions through lights and musical notes and respond to simple actions such as strokes or hugs. They can even communicate remotely by connecting them to the Avakai mobile app.
The dolls can be used to enhance play such as treasure hunts — they have space inside to hide a small present — or hide and seek. Avakai is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter where pledgers can pre-order an Avakai couple for a reduced price of USD 149. The toys are expected to ship in March 2016. How else could tech be used to modernize traditional toys?