When I was growing up, the height of technological innovation in toys was the Furby. That fuzzy monster-thing had it all: light sensors, motion sensors, even a strategically-placed button so you could “tickle” it. Now, a new Taiwan-based company led by a former Microsoft employee is trying to kickstart the next evolution of merging electronics and fuzzy animals.
The toy in question is TuTu, an interactive plush doll for your kids. Roam & Wander, the company behind TuTu, was founded by Jason Warren, a former member of the Windows Mobile team. They’re trying to “bring toys to life through apps,” according to their Kickstarter page.
As is often the case with most children’s toys, some assembly is required. TuTu’s brain, as it were, is actually an iPhone app. Since a new phone isn’t included in the purchase price, backers will probably want to make sure they have an old one sitting around, or pick up an iPod Touch. I’d imagine it would be fairly embarrassing to interrupt your kid’s playtime by having the face of his or her toy morph into an important phone call.
If you’re interested, for $45, ($35 if you’re an early bird) you get the plush TuTu iPhone cover along with six toys. An extra 100 dollars gets you expedited shipping, so you can be the first person you know to get one. The company is looking to raise $25,000 through the Kickstarter campaign, which just started.
Of course, merging apps with toys sounds like a good idea, but as Smith & Tinker’s Nanovor demonstrated, the interest in such things may not have materialized yet.
The one potential issue I see with TuTu is the fact that it asks to be given milk when it’s thirsty. While Roam & Wander provides a special milk carton, I’d worry about a kid accidentally trying to use real milk.
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.