The Next Decade of Innovation Heralds Tech Options for Kids and Families

Reyne Rice, TIA Toy Trend Specialist, reports from the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show

Access and connectivity to all sources of content was a recurring theme across the CES 2010 Show … and the devices, products and services on display supported this integration. Everything is being developed to help consumers access, manage, and enjoy content:

  • Movies, television programming and sports content are being developed for 3D viewing format.  
  • Platforms for written materials —tablets, e-readers, PCs or phones — are focusing on the increasing numbers of digitized ebooks, newspaper and magazines that are newly available. 
  • Broader ranges of digital devices are providing internet access to support both content and the user’s online social life.  
The Consumer Electronics Show has always been about the gadgets, but this year it was really the marriage of technology and content that took center stage. Access and mobility were the driving messages.

Though there was no “one big announcement” or innovation evident from the show floor, the over-arching message was connectivity – when and where and how the consumer wanted it. 

For toy and game manufacturers, the key message is that alliances and connectivity to communication devices and partners will be an important and integral part of marketing and product development strategies for the future.  Aligning their vision for brands, choosing the right technologies and partners to implement that vision and ensuring accessibility for loyal consumers will be key strategic decisions that will impact their core brands. 

Kids have 24/7 access to their favorite shows, sites and brands via mobile phones, devices and alliance programs, such as FloTV, Nickelodeon and Disney Online, and even in their family’s car with the new SYNC technology from Ford, to name a few examples.

Major technology trends unveiled on the 2010 CES show floor included 3D TV, mobile DTV, connected TV, green technologies, eReaders and apps:

  • Kids have 24/7 access to their favorite shows, sites and brands via mobile phones, devices and alliance programs, such as FloTV, Nickelodeon and Disney Online, and even in their family’s car with the new SYNC technology from Ford, to name a few examples.
  • Trends affecting families and kids were most prevalent in the Living in Digital Times Pavillions: Kids@Play, MommyTech and Higher Ed Tech.
  • Family tech was also previewed in the Gaming Pavillion with Lego Universe, and other new gaming options displayed by a variety of manufacturers, many intended for tweens, teens and older gamers.
  • Microsoft previewed all of the new family options and parental controls on the X-Box platform, including Project Natal, their new gaming platform, which will be launched in the second half of 2010 as the first voice and gesture controlled gaming platform.  The product is expected to provide some serious competition with the Nintendo Wii platform for family entertainment time.

Some of the cutting-edge technology trends that wowed crowds on the show floor were advancements in 3D technology, mobile DTV (digital Television), tablet PC’s, eReaders, apps, connected TVs, embedded internet technologies and green technology.

Major innovations specifically designed for kids included netbook PC’s from Disney (Netpal), The Dell MiniV Nickelodeon (currently a WalMart exclusive), The HP Mini 5102 with touchscreen, and the Intel Classmate PC.

In the classroom, new e-textbooks provide embedded videos and FAQs, highlighting capabilities, note-taking, and other new features designed to take the weight out of textbooks and to enhance learning with instant and interactive tutoring. E-books in general were a big buzz with over a half dozen new models introduced; varying size screens, prices and capabilities will suit a wide variety of readers.  Barnes and Nobles new Nook reader has a special category for children’s books, so the Amazon Kindle now has more competition.

Exhibitors at CES 2010 definitely demonstrated “All Access to Technology, Anytime, Anywhere, 24/7” across multiple platforms, devices and services.