The toys of the future are smart and communicate with us. But pay attention to privacy!


Who doesn’t like toys? Children (and also many adults) love them. Nowadays this is even more the case thanks to technological advancement which has brought new, ever more futuristic and performing toys: from robot bees designed to promote coding basics in kindergartens to animated stuffed animals that respond to voice commands and can dance, sing, record sound and emit lights, to interactive cubes to learn the basics of computer programming or building kits which can be used to create humanoid robots that mimic human movements. 

The so-called Smart Toys are intelligent toys that can interact with people and the surrounding environment through microphones, cameras, sensors and positioning systems. In some highly-digitized countries like China and India, these toys are already a reality in every child’s daily life, as illustrated by the research institute Zion Market Research in the report Smart Toys Market: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis and Forecast, 2017 – 2024 (which can be downloaded here).

By segmenting the market by product type, technology, distribution channel and geographical area, the report offers an accurate and comprehensive picture of the smart toys industry, both in the present and near future. Besides, the Smart Toys market is growing at a very significant pace thanks to parents’ ever greater awareness of the potential of digital transformation. 

Therefore, changing lifestyle and advancement in artificial intelligence drives the smart toys market. In 2017 the global Smart Toys market generated a turnover of approximately 3.87 million dollars, and is expected to reach 5.4 million by 2024, growing at an annual rate of around 4.77%. The product categories include voice recognition games (which alone account for 31% of the total turnover of the sector), app-enabled mechanical toys, screenless toys, puzzles and building games, health-tracking toys and many others. What are the main technologies used? Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID tags. 

Fun, useful and educational toys, but we should also pay attention to privacy. These devices can collect, process and communicate various kinds of data, from entries to passwords, from images to e-mails up to the tastes, preferences, habits not only of minors but also of the whole family. 

A new era awaits us in which parents will have to teach their children how to protect their privacy even before teaching them how to speak or write. If you believe that facial recognition represent the future, ask your iPhone. Some artificial intelligence systems can already detect the emotions experienced by a human being by simply framing his face with a camera: the future is just around the corner!