The Premise. As technology becomes more and more apart of our lives, tech users become younger and younger. Kids who once had to venture outside to play now can stay in, isolated with their TVs, tablets, phones and other devices.
The Product. ZiBear combines the best of a cuddly toy for your child to play with technology. With a sophisticated inner system of a microcontroller, Bluetooth transmitter and sound detection software, ZiBear is able to speak and interact with children. What the bear says or even sings is controlled via Bluetooth by any parent with an Android or iOS device. This stuffed animal looks like any standard teddy bear with yellow fur. When talking, the bear moves as well to give it a more animated look.
The Pitch. The campaign video shows ZiBear having a conversation with someone and does a good job of showing how an already written script can be fed to the bear line by line. Various apps permeate the rest of the campaign, showing how the bear can read a story, sing a song, read what parents write or even take quizzes with children. ZiBear’s British creators are looking to raise £30,000 in their 50-day Indiegogo campaign.
The Perks. For £45, early backers can enjoy a heavily discounted ZiBear which otherwise goes for £49. Reward tiers reach to £3,750 and only seem to offer the product, with no other elaborate perks. All tiers have free shipping worldwide and estimated delivery dates of September 2014.
The Potential. We’re definitely a long ways from the autonomous toys pictured in the movie A.I. However, robotic bears are definitely beginning to make their way onto the market. Gone are the days of simplistic bears with fake beating hearts or ones that simply say, “I love you.” Now there are toys that can help children with diabetes manage their illness, such as Jerry the Bear, and others that can simply hold a conversation, like Supertoy. The ZiBear is unique in its wide array of capabilities, although a little awkward in its movements. The complete control that parents have over what ZiBear says is certainly appealing, though they shouldn’t let power slip into the hands of a naughty teenager. It’s also interesting that this robot bear can sing and connect to the Internet to answer questions. Children will certainly delight in their fuzzy new friend who can interact with them, while still giving them the satisfaction of technology.