Category Archives: Toys & Gaming

Hello Genius bridges the learning gap for parent and child @ CES 2021



Hello Genius Early LearningThe idea of Hello Genius is a genius idea! When a child is in public school, the parents aren’t always aware of the true nature of what the child is learning. Hello Genius is an app-based learning system that is designed to build greater connectivity between parents and their young children through a personalized learning experience.

Founded in 2020 by Jack Lee, CEO, and Lee Daley, the chief strategy and marketing officer, the idea for Hello Genius was inspired by the desire to better understand their children and connect with them as they learn. Hello Genius believes that all children learn at a different rate of speed and at different levels. Children are more receptive to learning if it is done with something they are interested in or care about. At that early age, they aren’t normally driven by the average curriculum but rather by something they are truly interested in-something that captivates them.

The Hello Genius software platform is driven by the principles of non-linear adaptive learning and natural development during the child’s early formative years from ages 3-10. As the child explores, the system will adapt to feed or satisfy the particular interests and potential of each child.

There are two apps available, one for parents and one for children. For children, the system adapts with a tailored learning journey while revealing their interests and preferences to their parents through quantitative and qualitative data.

For the parents, the app provides a set of features to help parents support their child as they learn and grow, also encouraging the feeling of safety and security of their children being online. One feature is a live activity feed and the capability for parents to share topics in real-time and receive content from their children, which may also have messages, voice and video call functions, and push notifications.

The software platform uses AI and machine-learning algorithms to build the child’s profile based on valuable data and insight, helping parents to get a deeper understanding of the child’s growing interests and talents. The app management feature provides parents with the ability to regulate a safe mode as the child engages on the Hello Genius app. This safe mode allows the child to engage with other third-party applications, selected by the parent, apart from the main app, and thereby reassuring the parent’s desire for safety and security.

The cost of this app is less than the price of a cup of coffee, only $0.99 a day. Hello Genius is currently only available in English, but there are plans for expanding to multiple languages in the next 12-18 months. Hello Genius is offering free subscriptions for the remainder of 2021, along with a lifetime membership to the parent community who download the early release of March 1, 2021. The early release platform is available on any iOS or Android device. For more information go to the company’s website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Maicat from Macroact is a realistic robotic cat companion @ CES 2021



Macroact MaicatCompanionship is an important part of life, and for many, a pet can be the perfect companion. However, for a variety of reasons, not everyone can or will have a pet. Some people have allergies, some are scared, and others live in a controlled environment. In these cases, and others, an artificial companion can help overcome the challenges. Macroact has a robotic cat, Maicat, to help fill this void.

Macroact is a robotic startup which is combining artificial intelligence with robotics but focuses on very specialized markets. The first of their adaptive robots, Maicat, is a companion robot that is designed to behave and interact like a cat. This is done without sending the robot into the uncanny valley, so it is compelling and cute.

While other companion robotic animals have been created before, Maicat separates itself in size. It is about two-thirds the size of its competitors, making it a more manageable device. In addition, Maicat features autonomous motion control and 21 actuators, allowing it to interact with the people and objects around it more similar to a real cat. Thanks to its integrated environment detection system, it is also able to know its environment and avoid obstacles in its path.

Like a real cat, Maicat learns from your unique interaction with it, including using voice and facial recognition and sentiment analysis, and determines the perceived intent, both positive and negative, of each action. The robot also develops its own unique emotional rhythmic cycle and uses that to respond to external stimuli with each interaction. This means that, like a real cat, each time you interact with it, the experience will be different. This will obviously make the experiences more diverse and fun.

One clear use for this technology, as pointed out by Christopher Jordan, is for helping to teach a younger child about pets. Rather than the child learning the hard way through scratches or bites that certain activities are inappropriate, Maicat can help instead. To learn more and find out when it becomes available, check out the company’s website.

Interview by Christopher Jordan of The Talking Sound.

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EMOTAI is using biofeedback to improve competitive videogaming



EMOTAI Gaming Performance EnhancementOver the past few years, the technology behind brain tracking has gotten better. As the tech has improved, the usage has gone from toys and gimmicks to real-world problem-solving. We have seen drones controlled by thoughts and we’ve seen dream and mood analysis technology come to market. Now, the technology is being applied to videogame performance by tracking response during gameplay, thanks to EMOTAI.

This team of biomedical engineers came together to use biofeedback to analyze and improve performance for professional and semi-pro competitive gamers. Using a headband with 5 sensors and screen scraping on the videogame, the company can determine the gamer’s mental state during each phase of gameplay. By combining this data with artificial intelligence, the system is also able to make determinations to help improve your state during those situations.

The prototype that Carolina Amorim, the CEO of EMOTAI, brought with her is similar to the hardware that will come to market next year, with one major difference. Heart rate is being moved from an ear clip to the forehead so that the device does not add any additional issues to your gameplay. With an ear clip, it could get in the way of headphones, which are essential to competitive gameplay.

While the technology is currently being applied to videogames, the company is aware that it could be adapted to other areas as well. Some of the industries that have been interested in their technology have been professional sports and racing. Bringing the tech to new industries would require a new set of AI training, but it is on the roadmap for the future.

If you are interested in getting your hands on the EMOTAI headband, they will be offering a preorder opportunity with hardware set to launch in 2020. To get more information or to sign up for notifications about the preorder process, head over to their website.

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Play a fun game and earn crypto coin at the same time with Hedgie



Hedgie Crypto GameAt PLuGHiTz Live, we enjoy getting out and covering special events like Collision Conference. When we do these special events, we love being among the first to get a glimpse of new products. This is especially true when it comes to the new mobile apps, and even more so when they are games. Hedgie co-founder, Stas Zlobinski, stopped by to show us their fun new game, and we were not disappointed.

Hedgie is a unique strategy and exploration game that is free to play. You start by choosing your Hedgie. Each of these legendary creatures come with an interesting backstory with unique powers and skillsets. They are considered skilled explorers with a storied past that are limited edition digital collectibles (or “crypto-collectibles”) and they are on a never-ending mission to uncover lost treasure and ultimately earn you Curio coin. Your journey with your Hedgie takes you through four unique kingdoms, digging up all kinds of loot that will boost your Hedgie’s performance. And to make it even better, you also earn crypto coin along the way. There are four different kingdoms to explore and you need to strategize as you go.

The coin that you collect is also spendable in real-world businesses. They have partnered with a few global businesses, so far. This was important to them because it is a game that will have players throughout the world. Most of their current partners are located in Toronto, as that is where the app has been launched initially. Some of the partnerships are with businesses that sell digital products which makes it easier to give their users things like a free one month subscriptions or free items in exchange for coins. So users make this coin in the game and then spend it on real-world awards. They can also make purchases within the game, to enhance their level of play.

You can learn more about this exciting game that we all downloaded right there in Toronto by watching the full interview. You can also get more details by visiting their website.

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Make money when you travel by delivering items as you go, with KNGRO



KNGRO International ShoppingNot very many people here in the states know this, but the candy brand Kit Kat is extremely popular in Japan. One of the reasons that it is so popular there is because they have different flavors than we have here. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine traveled to Japan and brought back all kinds of wonderful (and crazy) flavored Kit Kat’s. There was strawberry cheesecake, green tea, orange, wasabi, and sweet corn, to name a few. And once they were gone… they were gone. If only I had a quick and easy way to get some more of these unusual treats. Sure, there are now some trendy candy, and even comic book, stores that dabble in some of these candies from overseas, but still not the full range. And it can get so expensive to order foreign items online, with markup and shipping, to say the least. This is where the new app, KNGRO, comes into play.

We learned more about it when we met Roy Abdo, Marketing Director and one of the cofounders of KNGRO, at Collision Conference 2019. They realized that there are a lot of people around the world who want to purchase items from far away places. Likewise, there are millions of people who travel internationally every year. So why not find a way to link them up? They created a platform where people can order things from other areas and then someone traveling to/from that location will bring them to you for a mutually agreed-upon fee. It’s the perfect set up for everybody involved. The traveler can make a little extra cash for their efforts, and the shopper can get their items, not only for a better price than shipping but also much faster than waiting weeks for their international packages.

The app and the online version are really easy to use, too. You simply list the item that you want, along with your location and the location of the item. Then travelers go in to “make an offer” on the items that they can bring along in their luggage to drop off when they arrive in your area. Simple transaction for both parties.

Check out Roy’s full interview to get more details and then hop over to their website to get started.

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Sphero Specdrums: The most fun you’ll ever have tapping your fingers



Sphero SpecdrumsDo you ever sit at your desk and tap along to the beat of a song? Is the steering wheel in your car a full-on drum set when your favorite song comes is playing? If you’re like me, you’re a world class drummer in your own head. So, for all of us who don’t quite have the time or drum set to become rock stars, Sphero has introduced Specdrums.

Specdrums are sleekly designed, Bluetooth enabled, app connected rings that detect color, combined with accelerometers that detect tapping. So you are able to play music on anything in the world around you. They are a fun new musical instrument that provides an accessible, portable, and tactile way for anyone to create music anywhere. You can play on the included color pad, or really on anything, like your shirt, a drawing or even a bowl of fruit. They are perfect for beginners who want to explore but also open-ended for advanced musicians to get creative and show their chops. Specdrums provides an outlet for whether you are practicing music using your hands without loud, expensive, and large physical instruments.

They work by sending a very quick, low latency color signal to the app on your device. The colors can be programmed in the app to have a specific sound for each color. They also have curated packs in the app for different genres of music. Each pack has a combination of loops that continue to play like drum or baseline and also some instruments like a keyboard. With all of these great features, they sound great right out of the box. And with all of the customization choices available, you’ll have your own amazing creations in no time. They offer sets with one ring for $64.99 or expand your play experience with a 2 ring set that allows you to switch it up using two hands with more versatility or to play with friends for $99.

You can get more information and grab your own set on their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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3dRudder frees up your hands to play VR games in a more natural way



3dRudderAs the world of virtual reality gaming gets more sophisticated, so must the control systems that make the games possible. If you have played any VR games, you know that the current methods of controlling your position within the virtual world are both unnatural and self-defeating. Trying to use a standard controller to move around takes you out of the VR experience and reminds you that you are not actually experiencing those actions and activities.

Fortunately, the team at 3dRudder have created a paradigm that allows you to control your character’s position with your feet. This means you can move without feeling like you are exerting an outside force on the game, but instead feeling like you are moving more naturally within the world being created for you. The product looks a little like a smaller BOSU ball, allowing you to place your feet on the platform and move in all directions simply by using your feet. Obviously, this is a far closer approximation to reality than using a controller, keeping you in the virtual reality.

While the 3dRudder has been available for PC for a while, the big addition this year was support for PlayStation VR. Combining the PlayStation Move controllers with the 3dRudder really brings gameplay far closer to reality. Being able to control your movement with your feet, while aiming and firing, punching,m etc., with the PlayStation Move wands is an incredibly accurate and realistic control system. And, by combining these two on the PlayStation, it really just makes the game more fun.

While there is obviously a lot of talk around using the 3dRudder with VR, there is no requirement that you use it within a virtual reality experience. In fact, you can use the 3dRudder with any game that accepts controller input. Now you can separate your hand controls from your foot controls on PC games, freeing you up to move around and fire quicker.

The PC and PlayStation versions of the 3dRudder hardware are available now on their website.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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The Most Amazing Chess Board… EVER!!



SquareOff electronic chess boardSo, you see a nice wooden chess board while walking around a large tech show. You glance at it, give a little smile and almost walk right by to the thing that has all of the bells and whistles down the row, because it’s just a chess board, right? Luckily our team didn’t just keep walking when they came up to this one. I have to say that with all of the technology out there and after years of coming to CES, it is pretty rare for us to see a new product demo and have our jaws actually drop. But that’s what happened when we saw the sorcery at the Square Off booth in Eureka Park this year at CES 2018.

Square Off is an automated chess board that allows you to play against the built-in artificial intelligence. So, big deal, right? Electronic chess has been around forever. Well this isn’t your grandpa’s electronic chess. This game is played on an actual, physical chess board with real pieces. And after you take your turn, the built in intelligence not only calculates its next move, but it actually moves its piece on the board. It accomplishes this via built in pressure sensors, magnets and an electronic arm built inside. You have to see it to believe it. It even moves around other pieces and removes your captured pieces from the board itself.

There are 20 different levels of difficulty for playing against the computer, and you can also connect with it online and play with anybody across the world. They have connected with Chess.com so you will be able to challenge any of their 16 million users to a game, at any time, whether or not they have the board as well. The accompanying mobile app connects to the board via Bluetooth. The app is where you set the difficulty levels and search for friends. You can also analyze your games, record and share them and check the leader boards, among other features.

Don’t know how to play chess? No problem! There is a training mode that will not only teach you to play but also how to up-skill your game. Go take a look at the two different models they offer on their website. Pricing for the Kingdom Board will be $330, and the Grand Kingdom Board will be $400.

Interview by Marissa Schiereck of The New Product Launchpad.
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Play The Best Games During Your Down Time



Gamestream Cloud Gaming SolutionGameStream offers video game streaming services to businesses in the hospitality industry. This allows their clients the luxury of playing video games while they are waiting for their services to be complete. They are offering a highly qualitative Cloud Gaming solution that allows them to stream a catalog composed of the latest AAA games and a selection of the best independent games in HD (1080p/60fps). The White-Label solution serves Hotels, Cruise ships and hospitals by enabling them to bypass the limited internet connections inside their premises. This “Next-Gen console experience” is easy to integrate where no console needs to be installed.

The founders know that others have tried and failed in this space. They feel that their extensive background in gaming, as well as game design and production give them a distinct advantage. They are not just tech people adapting their ideas and technology to gaming, as others have been. They feel that just as people have options for various music streaming services and are able to find what works best for them, that the same will be the case in game streaming if gamers are given good options.

Currently available overseas, the company is looking to expand into the U.S. They are also looking to increase their exposure in hospitals. They found that not only does it give the patients something fun to do, but it also aids in their recovery because people do better overall when their spirits are lifted.

They are also looking to offer streaming services directly to consumers in the future, when 5G wireless is available. For more information, check out their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.
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What Happens When You Open Young Minds to an Innovative Idea



Cubetto by Primo ToysNow very young children can learn the basic programming logic with Primo. It is a tactile programming language meant to introduce children from 3+ the basic skills meant to do programming in a manner that they can understand and get excited about without a screen. This is done through the eyes of Cubetto, a little wooden robot whose movements are determined by placement of colorful plastic pieces on a wooden track.

Each color represents a different command: green for go, red for right and yellow for left. The company tried hard to incorporate alliteration into the command colors so that young children will associate with it easily.

The price point for this learning experience is $225.00 for the basic pack including the robot, the command pieces and track and a map. There are additional sets available for $29.00 each and a Color Pack for $45.00. Availability is through Amazon, Barnes and Noble or smaller toy stores around the country or through educational catalogues.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.
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