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In the Future, Your Kids May Cuddle AI

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Here’s a thought for future parents: your kids may cuddle artificial intelligence, and artificial intelligence may cuddle them back.

A new San Francisco startup, ToyTalk, has put out an intriguing video about its core product in development, apparently an AI-enabled Teddy Bear that interfaces with children through an iPad.

Here’s the video, though it’s just a teaser:

According to reports, ToyTalk has already raised $16 million in funding, based on its concept and a team that includes people with impressive tech resumes, such as Oran Jacob, former CTO at Pixar, and Martin Reddy, who worked on the project that became Apple’s Siri digital assistant.

Fascinating stuff, and most likely the next evolution in toys. There’s been a long mechanical tradition in toy making, of course, from wind-ups to remote controls, but ToyTalk appears to be taking it to another level. A child’s anthropomorphic toys evolve from having life-like motion to having subjectivity-like interaction. The myth of Pinocchio—a toy achieving consciousness—moves a small step toward reality.

I can’t wait to see the product and the depth of the “AI” here. I suspect also that this bear is only the beginning.

Author: Eric Kingsbury

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