The Future. AI-powered toys are hitting retail shelves as several companies roll out dolls, plushies, and robots that hope to be kids’ best friends. If parents and kids embrace the devices (and they don’t turn out like M3GAN), expect them to be the hottest toys come this year’s holiday season.
AI startups are trying to make Toy Story a reality.
- Miko’s $99 robotic companion powered by OpenAI helps kids solve math problems, reads bedtime stories, plays games like hide and seek, and answers basic questions.
- Curio Interactive’s rocket-shaped Grok plushie is meant as a conversational companion for kids to engage in “playful learning.” (It’s voiced by AI-superfan Grimes.)
- Fawn Friend’s baby deer plushie, using systems from OpenAI and ElevenLabs, is meant to help kids understand their emotions while talking in the tone of an eight-year-old.
- Embodied’s $800 Moxie robot is the most robust of the crop, with facial recognition and a mechanical body, which is meant to be a cognitive behavioral therapist for kids.
The research on using an AI-powered robot as a friend or therapist for kids is mixed at best, especially considering issues with trustworthiness, privacy, and just general capabilities.
But that hasn’t stopped some people from giving it a shot. Miko, for example, has sold nearly half a million robots across 100 countries. And parents told Forbes that Moxie has been helpful with their disabled children.