This new toy looks so bright! Do you know why ?


Last week I found that new toy  called “CogniToys” for infants will be developed in the project of Kickstarter, one of the biggest platforms in cloud funding.  The developer is elemental path, one of the three winners of the IBM Watson competition. Let see why it is so bright!

According to the web site of this company,  this toy is connected to the internet.  When a child talks to this toy, it can reply because this toy can see what a child says and answer the question from a child.  It usually requires less than one second to answer because IBM Watson-powered system is powerful enough to calculate answers quickly.


Let us look at the descriptions of this company’s technology.

“The Elemental Path technology is built to easily license and integrate into existing product lines. Our dialog engine is able to utilize some of the most advanced language processing algorithms available driving the personalization of our platform, and keeping the interaction going between toy and child.”

Key words are 1. Dialog    2. Language processing   3. Personalization


1. Dialog

This toy communicates with children by conversation, rather than programming. Therefore technology called “speech recognition” is needed in it.  This technology is applied in real-time machine translation such as Microsoft Skype, too.


2. Language processing

In the area of machine learning, it is called “Natural language processing”. Based on the structure of sentence and phrase, the toy understands what children say.  IBM Watson is very expert in the field of natural language processing because Watson should understand the meaning of questions in Jeopardy contests before.


3. Personalization

It is beneficial when children talk to this toy, it knows children preference in advance. This technology is called “Personalization”.  Through interactions between children and the toy, it can learn what children like to cognize. This technology is oftentimes used in retailers such as Amazon and Netflix. There is no disclosure about the method of personalization as far as I know.  I am very interested in how the personalization mechanism works.


In short, machine learning enables this toy to work and be smart. Functions of Machine Learning are provided as a service by big IT companies, such as IBM and Microsoft.  Therefore, this kind of applications is expected to be put out to the market in future. This is amazing, isn’t it?  I imagine next versions of the toy can see images,  identify what they are and share images with children because technology called image recognition is also offered as a service by big companies.

I ordered one CogniToy through Kickstarter. It is expected to deliver in November this year. I will report how it works when I get it!


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