Pamela Chan
June 03, 2015 7:50 am

Perhaps you’ve always wanted a Barbie doll you could actually talk to, or a neat high-tech Iron Man suit that would allow you to physically embark on the same kinds of villain-destroying missions as your favorite Avengers superhero—a set of cool new toys for the digital age that could play back along with you.

Well, gone are the days when this was merely a distant dream. The time has come for our very own versions of Toy Story come to life. Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, prepare to enter a new era of super-smart toys!

On Tuesday, Disney introduced its vision for the future of play with a new line of toys named “Playmation.” By combining the use of motion sensors, bluetooth, and other technology, these adventure-causing wearable toys will lead thrill-seekers everywhere to a game of dress-up like no other. With these snazzy gadgets, kids all over will be able to act out stories in interactive ways, to further express their creative imaginations. And the best news? For parents worried that kids spend too much time hanging out in front of their touchscreen, these toys guarantee that they’ll be doing a lot more than pushing buttons.

So where, we ask, was all of this awesomeness during our our pee-wee days? Well, as much as we’d like to harp on the fact that these tech toys may be coming a decade or so too late, the inner child in all of us is already bursting with excitement. From the sneak peeks that were offered from February’s American International Toy Fair in NYC, it’s safe to say that we have some major things to look forward to.

For years now, toy makers from Disney to Mattel have been competing against smartphones and tablets for kids’ attention. While the infamous Mickey Mouse brand has gone in the direction of wearable “gear” (FYI: Star Wars-themed toys are set for release in 2016, Frozen gear in 2017!), the latter, which has been facing a serious financial slump, decided to team up with Quirky (an online platform that brings user-submitted concepts to the market) earlier this year in an effort to joint-produce new products based on Quirky’s crowdsourced community of amateur inventors. Stay-at-home moms and gadget enthusiasts alike can now submit ideas that the company could then turn into real mass-produced products. So start scribbling away on those napkins. Your dream toys are awaiting!

And the updates aren’t just there for action toys, either. Starting this fall, little girls (and boys) will be able to talk to their dolls. Mattel plans to introduce Hello Barbie, a Wi-Fi enabled version of the iconic doll, which uses the ToyTalk system to analyze a child’s speech and produce relevant responses.

The new and improved Barbie can chat, tell jokes, play interactive games, and listen and learn likes and dislikes. It also adapts over time, using what it learns about its owner in future conversations, potentially leading to the reinvention of children’s imagination, learning and social development. As the New York Times calls it, it’s basically your average “Wi-Fi Barbie Doll With the Soul of Siri.” Fascinating? Amazing? Useful? How about all of the above.

Sure, these new amazing toys are technically for kids. But, um, we won’t tell if you won’t?

[Images courtesy of Mattel, via]

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