By Reyne Rice, Trend Hunter, Trend Analyst, CEO of ToyTrends, New York
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
Today, I am excited to be at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is where technology leaders and innovators from around the world gather to launch their latest wonders, and to share with us their latest research on possibilities for the future.
Through this large looking glass, I will peer into the future of technology, to seek the adult tech trends which will have the biggest impact on kids and families over the next two years. This “Trickle Down Effect” involves identifying the adult tech trend products that will become the next generation of toy products. Children see their parents, caregivers, educators, celebrities and role models using these technology products. They are naturally curious and want to pretend play and role play with real technology, and interactive toy versions of this technology, as they imagine and emulate the world around them.
Technology has produced a number of valuable product categories that have impacted the children’s marketplace in recent years. Tablet computers are a perfect example. Before April 2010, tablet computers didn’t even exist, before the iPad was introduced by Apple. Today, only three and a half years later, the tablet category has swelled to worldwide sales of over 200 Million units sold in annual 2013, with estimates of 270 Million MORE units to be sold worldwide in 2014 (Source: Shawn DuBravac, CES Chief Economist). In the USA alone, over half of the US households own at least one tablet device. Combined with the enormous penetration of smartphones worldwide, these two categories (Tablets and Smartphones) represent 43% of all technology device sales revenue worldwide (Source: GfK Digital World report). The top 7 categories of technology products represent 80% of the retail dollar sales volume worldwide. This research was revealed on Sunday, Jan 5th, 2014 at a media preview press conference, in advance of the CES 2014, which opens January 7th and continues through January 10th. More details on these global technology statistics will be available on the www.CESweb.org website later this week, after the CES 2014 officially opens on January 7th, 2014, at 10AM.
There are over 30 tablet computers designed specifically for children, mostly targeted to ages 3 years to 9 years. They boast age appropriate content, parental controls and most include both educational and entertainment content preloaded onto the devices. I will be joining a panel of experts on a discussion at the Kids at Play Summit on January 8th, 2014, entitled “Tablets, Glasses, Watches, 2nd Screens, and other personalized Mobile Gadgets” where we will view and explore the latest technology designed for kids, including tablets, smartphone devices designed for kids (with powerful parental controls), and new interactive and digital toys.
Later this week, awards will be given for the most dynamic products and software designed to appeal to and enhance the world of children. I will reveal the Kids@Play Innovators (KAPI) Award winners in next week’s blog, for the readers of YourToyCom. I am honored to be included as one of the KAPI jurors for this award program. Just like the prestigious ToyAward program at Spielwarenmesse, Living in Digital Times selects the best and brightest worldwide judges to collectively evaluate this new technology and to provide direction in 10 key categories of products, designed specifically for kids.
At the CES 2014 this week, I will be exploring the show floor, attending the educator sessions, and visiting the Tech Zones to look for new ideas to share with you, the innovators of children’s new products. I will sleuth the newest TechZones for creative applications, including:
- MotionTechZone, which showcases sensor technology products that employ gesture recognition, augmented reality and eye tracking technology in devices. There have been some major advancements in this sector, in the past year.
- The Robotics TechZone will reveal new ways that manufacturers are bringing robots and intelligent systems to engineering and science products for kids and adults in 3D formats.
- The new 3D Printing TechZone will introduce the latest in hardware and software products, that bring the future of printing to life with three dimensional layering. 3D Printing capabilities have already impacted the toy industry by improving the process of creating samples more efficiently and cost effectively than ever before, at earlier stages in the product development cycle. This emerging trend is still in its infancy, and as prices decrease, additional commercial uses will be implemented.
- Other new TechZones include FashionWare, Wrist Revolution and Fitness Tech. All three of these TechZones will highlight the newest trends in wearable mobile technology using more compact form factors. These include tech infused fashion clothing, rechargeable and solar powered backpacks and carry cases, and embedded technology in smart eyewear, wristwatches and jewelry. Flexible and curved screens and other lightweight and portable connected form factors will soon be reflected in children’s toy products also.
In the Toy Business Forum at Spielwarenmesse 2014, I will be showcasing examples of these “Emerging and Future Trends & Innovations – International Toy Highlights”, on Opening Day of the Fair, January 29, 2014, from 2PM to 3PM. This presentation will be held in the NEW Hall 3A, and is integrated into the NEW Trend Gallery. All of the Toy Business Forum speeches will be simultaneously translated into English and German, to appeal to a broader audience.
This Emerging Trends presentation will provide a fast paced overview of some of these new and developing technologies. Your strategic planners, design and development teams, and inventors can start using these innovations now as inspiration for toys and children’s products for the next 12 to 24 months. Some of these ground breaking and technologically viable products for adults will pass the “Trickle Down Effect” test and will become future commercially viable products for kids. Come join me for this sneak peek into the future.