CogniToys Has Made The World's Smartest Dino Using IBM Watson

Kids ask a lot of questions. They want to know why and how. And just when you think you have satisfied their curiosity, they come up with another question. As a parent, this is both thrilling and exacerbating. We want our children to be excited about learning, but sometimes we don’t have the answers or—let’s be honest—the time to figure out what owls eat, where they live, and how fast they can fly; all questions my daughter asked in the span of 10 seconds. But CogniToys are speech enabled, internet connected toys powered by IBM Watson which have both the time and age-appropriate answers to feed and fuel our children’s desire to learn.

Elemental Path won the IBM Watson Mobile Developer's Challenge, earning them the right to use IBM’s cloud based artificial intelligence and cognitive technology in their products. Their products are smart toys which they hope will change the way children learn and play. The CogniToys Dino is the first toy to interact with your child by getting to know them through conversations and questions.

The toy dinosaur doesn’t really know your child, but based on Watson’s knowledge and Elemental Path’s “friendgine”, a kid-friendly database, CogniToys can understand questions, answer questions, ask questions, and retain information it has been given by the child. The more your child interacts with Dino, the better he will understand your child’s learning ability and provide answers that best match your child’s level of comprehension. CogniToys do not provide canned phrases; they use human-like reasoning to have conversations with your child.

But how? If only Dino could explain. Let me try. Using an Android or iOS app, parents connect CogniToys to their home’s Wi-Fi. Parents can then use the Parent Panel to tell the toy some details about their child, like their age, grade, and interests. The child then pushes Dino’s button and talks to him. Your child can give commands, tell and listen to knock knock jokes, and create stories with this toy. And just like your child’s brain, CogniToys are sponges for collecting information to be used for future conversations and knowledge.

CogniToys can adjust their interactions with children on their own, but parents can adjust the settings in the Parent Panel to better reflect learning abilities. Parents can also access the engagement activity between child and toy so they know how their children are using Dino. Certain questions and topics are off limits, however. When sex or religion are discussed, Dino steers the user to another topic. Other restrictions can be set in the Parent Panel too.

Technology is changing the way our children learn, and learning should still be fun. CogniToys combines both with Watson, IBM’s supercomputer. My daughter and children everywhere can ask Dino how fast owls fly. And then Dino will likely encourage her to spell owl or ask her what other kinds of birds she likes.

CogniToys was funded through Kickstarter, where preorders are available.