AI playmates for toddlers will be in stores next year, writes Alyssa Rosenberg, who visited New York City's Toy Fair, in the Washington Post.
She played a shape-naming game with Snorble,a non-binary bot shaped like a ghost -- or perhaps an animated marshmallow -- that promises "to accelerate your child's development to create a tomorrow full of infinite possibilities."
Snorble might chuckle along with a kid who is reading a funny book, check in with a crying child, or play dress-up as a panda or unicorn thanks to RFID chips in his costumes. Snorble can also be programmed to assist with a customizable bedtime routine, cheerleading a kid up the steps and into pajamas, before teeing up a prayer or reflection.
"Miko, another robot companion, can tell jokes, start dance parties or let kids use the screen that doubles as its face to stream content from outside providers, including Disney and Cosmic Kids Yoga," writes Rosenberg.
"Or Dog-E, a robot puppy who enjoys having its ears scratched and getting a plastic biscuit, might offer an eerie simulation of pet ownership."
PBS Kids hopes to offer interactive AI that engages children in conversation, she writes. "Characters such as Elinor, the animated bunny star of 'Elinor Wonders Why,' could someday ask children questions about what’s happening on-screen," analyze the answer and reply from "a menu of prerecorded responses."
To reassure parents, both Miko and Snorble don't access "the cloud" or surf the net, she writes. But other products won't have those limits.