Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, countless families turned to technology to educate their children in a world with limited access to traditional school learning. In 2021, there was an enormous boom in the smart toy sector, which reached an incredible $12.9 billion market share. This upward trend is expected to continue, with the industry estimated to grow to £35.5 billion by 2030.
In 2021, The World Economic Forum and Dubai Future Foundation launched The Smart Toys Awards to celebrate the very best artificial intelligence toys available across the globe. The list has everything from robot toys to robot-building kits to teach children something while they play games.
Come with us as we take a look at some of the prestigious winners of the 2022 awards and highlight their incredible features that are sure to entertain the most hard-to-please children.
The six winners of the Smart Toys Awards 2022
Here are the current top artificial intelligence technology-based toys available to consumers today as judged by the Smart Toys Award panel.
Award: Most Innovative
Price: Available to back at IndieGoGo for $354
For many years, AI robot toys, especially dogs, have cornered the artificial intelligence pet market space. These cute interactive pups include such brands as:
- Zoomer Interactive Puppy
- Fisca RC Dog
- Hi-Tech Robot Puppy
- Top Race Remote Control Robot Dog
- Yiman Remote Control Robot Dog
However, there may be a new competitor to overthrow man’s best robotic friend, introducing Moflin.
One look at this adorable, smart robot pet is guaranteed to win the hearts of adults and children alike.
Using a complex combination of machine learning algorithms and numerous sensors, this furry friend can convey real feelings, even though it’s powered by artificial intelligence.
Moflin uses a Two-Dimensional Emotion expression map, which enables its emotions to reflect both the creature’s surroundings and interaction with humans. This constant emotional learning means that your fluffy playmate, who’s essentially an interactive robot, will have a completely unique personality depending on their experiences.
Worried about how quickly this revolutionary toy will burn through batteries? The team at Vanguard Industries has created a ‘birdhouse’ that enables wireless charging while Moflin makes cute sleeping noises and movements.
With intricate movements, heart-warming noises, and constantly evolving emotions, Moflin is the most realistic artificial intelligence pet on the market, guaranteed to entertain and offer companionship.
Price: Available at Amazon from $630
This incredible educational robot is designed to teach younger children from 7+ months the basics of coding and programming. It will introduce children to:
- Sequential execution
- Conditional branding
These types of educational robot toys aim to guide the robot to the ‘end goal’ by overcoming obstacles and traversing over 3.6 million course combinations.
Kumiita reads ‘panels’ using sensors and then performs the designated action automatically. Some of the panels included in the starter set are:
- Go: Kumiita will follow the direction of the arrow.
- Musical instruments: This will prompt the robot to play the sound of an instrument, including xylophones, trumpets, pianos, and cymbals.
- Musical notes: Kumiita will play a specific musical note in the style of the previously selected instrument.
- Animal sounds: The robot will make the sound of a chicken, cat, dog, lion, or elephant, depending on the tile it reads.
- Color change: These panels change the color of Kumiita’s stripes to pink, blue, green, or yellow.
- Spin: The robot will perform a clockwise spin and then carry on its path.
This non-verbal approach to play experience means that this educational toy can be enjoyed universally by children of all capabilities and ages.
However, this remarkable STEM toy offers an expansion called ‘Logical Think Skill Up’ that provides more complicated tiles to customize the learning experience and promote problem-solving and critical thinking skills. These include:
- Locked and double-locked doors: These panels require keys to move through them.
- Key: These tiles provide Kumiita with a key to open locked doors.
- Skip: The robot will skip the next panel in the sequence.
- Banana and apple: Kumiita will pick the amount of fruit shown on the panel.
- Elephant and monkey: These animals will eat (i.e. subtract) one fruit from the robot.
- Conditional panels: These enable users to program conditional statements. For instance, ‘if Kumitta is carrying three bananas, then she may carry on her path’.
Price: Currently unavailable in retailers
Unleash your child’s inner programmer with Karbo, an incredible coding robot for kids ages 6 to 12.
This crab-like AI robot toy uses hands-on tape programming to create code, meaning that children do not need to be hooked up to a WI-FI connection on their touchscreen devices.
Children combine thousands of commands to create complex sequences that can be installed into Karbo and recognized by the internal camera.
Using a selection of sensors, the artificial intelligence power of Karbo is able to detect sound, movement, obstacles, and colors to:
- Follow programmed command sequences
- Understand and react to hand gestures
- Sing and dance
- Draw images
- Play on the World Map activity pack
- Track and locate sounds
The active command will be shown on the dot matrix display on top of Karbo, allowing children to see how their coding affects their robot companion in real time.
Award: Learn to code
Price: Available at Kai’s Education for $97.50
This small yet infinitely innovative toy claims to be the ‘world’s first hybrid robot’, allowing young boys and girls to learn coding screen-free or with a digital simulator called Kainundrum.
Included within the package there are 51 coding cards, which belong to the following categories:
- Movement: Backward, forward, turn left, turn right, circle, and wait.
- Control: Record start, record end, run program, and stop program.
- Conditionals: If, then, else, and end if.
- Loop and repeat: Loop start, loop end, repeat start, repeat end, and repeat until.
- Numbers: Cards with the numbers 0 to 9.
- Kainundrum: Picasso mode, bumper mode, easter egg, and electromagnet.
- Color mixing: Color mixer start, color mixer end, red, green, and blue.
- Social-emotional learning: How do I feel? 1 and 2.
- Relational operators: Greater than, less than, equal to, and not equal to.
- Variables: Set variable to number, read variable, and read tile number.
This AI robot toy uses a downward-facing camera that will identify coding cards and perform the desired action with a simple tap from the user.
Magnetic KaiTiles enable users to create their own physical escape rooms, mazes, customized levels, and obstacle courses. These tiles have numerous benefits, as can be seen in the table below.
Most excitingly, this package comes with an incredible ‘code ‘n game’ platform called Kainundrum that offers hours of fun and entertainment.
The on-screen avatar of your KaiBot directly mimics its physical counterpart, allowing you to code and compete in a multitude of interactive games, which include:
- Maze race
- Roam free
- Cube run
- Hide and seek
On this platform, users are able to customize their KaiBot avatar with an emoji and color scheme. When synced to a real-world counterpart, these cosmetic changes are shown on the robot’s display panel.
While this incredible machine can be charged via a USB cable, Kai’s Education also offers an Autonomous Charging Dock tile that KaiBot will automatically drive to when its battery level is low.
5. Smart Teddy
Award: Smart companion
Price: Available from Amazon at $135.57
Originating as a satire of Theodore Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a chained black bear, the Teddy Bear has since become a symbol of childhood almost everywhere. In fact, it is estimated that over 6 billion stuffed animals are created yearly.
The official website claims this cuddly companion to be a ‘cheerful coach to keep your child active’. To activate your child’s next best friend is incredibly simple; just follow these three steps:
- Download the free Android or IOS mobile app to control your bear
- Simply select an activity from the extensive list.
- Smart Teddy asks your child to perform the activity.
Smart Teddy can aid parenting efforts in over 25 scenarios, including:
- Going to the doctor
- Taking medicine
- Using the potty
- Having a bath
- Going to bed
- Washing your hands
- Playing outside
- Eating dinner
- Brushing your teeth
The content library is constantly being updated with new jokes, songs, games, facts, and stories, meaning that every play session with Smart Teddy is a fresh experience.
This incredible soft toy can be a fantastic educational tool, too, with the early learning expansion sets. The bear simply touches the card with its ‘Super Paw’ and will explain the rules of the activity to the child.
The bear can teach such subjects as:
Incredibly, this bear comes with a 24-month warranty, which means if your Smart Teddy is unexpectedly damaged, then it will be replaced for free.
Are you still unsure about the financial commitment? Simply make a deposit, and you can find out how revolutionary this toy can be to teach kids during a 90-day trial. If you are not fully in love with this fantastic product, then you can claim your money back.
Price: Currently only available in India from Avishkaar for ₹18,599.00 (225 USD)
This is the ultimate robot kit for 12-year-olds and up, featuring over 200 components, which include:
- Modular metal parts
- Full programmable brain
- Motors sensors wheels
- USB cable
- Nuts and bolts
- Allen key
This incredible DIY set will teach your child how to construct 200 easy-to-build programmable robots from the robot kit, including:
- Vending machine
- Humanoid bot
- Color sorter
- AI terrain vehicle
- Pedestal fan
This fantastic range of functions is made possible by the cutting-edge programmable brain included in the package. The features of this revolutionary robotic brain include:
- Five sensor ports
- Four motor ports
- One remote port
- OLED screen
- WI-FI enabled
- Bluetooth enabled
- Control using a mobile app
- Program using desktop software
Are you unsure whether the Robotics Pro Kit is right for your child? Check out the other incredible kits available from Avishkaar below.
The 2021 Smart Toy Award winners
We would feel remiss without briefly mentioning the standout tech from the inaugural Smart Toy Award ceremony. Here are the eight winners from the first year of the competition:
- Creative play: Smart Train by Intelino
- Most empowering: Autonomous Vehicle Kit by Twin Science
- Accessibility: Alpha by Leka
- Youth entrepreneur: Coding Game for AI Learners by CoderMindz
- Educational: Plugo by PlayShifu
- Innovation: VIDIYO by The Lego Group
- Smart companion: ROYBI robot by ROYBI
- Smart toy for children with disabilities: QTrobot by LuxAI
Of course, there are hundreds of fantastic artificial intelligence toys on the market that have not yet won awards; here is our list of honorable mentions to watch out for:
- Cozmo by Anki
- Miko 3 by RN Chidakashi Technologies
- Dash Robot by Wonder Workshop
- Mi-Go AI by Wowwee
- Eilik by Energize Lab
- MeccaNoid G15 by Meccanno
Playtime will never be the same again
It is undeniable that artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the toy industry. As this technology evolves and becomes more regularly available, this type of toy is likely to be embraced by the biggest toy manufacturers.
The AI toys featured here allow kids to play games that use various teaching methods and even build their own robot, so there’s bound to be at least one that will appeal to your family. They’ll improve critical thinking skills, learn coding, and hopefully develop a love of learning.
With the backing of industry leaders, such as Mattel, Hasbro, The Lego Group, and Fisher-Price, the sector will truly reach its full potential.
For the most up-to-date information on AI toys, keep an eye out on the Top Apps blog.