Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Guys Who Made Siri Have A New iPad App That Talks To Your Kids



Every episode of a kid's show follows a similar pattern where the main character will pause, turn to the screen and ask a question to the viewer.

Children are supposed to eagerly shout at the screen with the answer. Regardless of what someone says, the character on screen and continue on with the show.

If this is supposed to be educational, how are kids really learning anything if they're given the answer anyways?

Toytalk, a company founded by veteran Pixar Animation execs Oren Jacob and Martin Reddy, have an app that literally answers this question.

The company's first project is called The Winston Show. Its a cartoon app starring Winston and Ellington, co-hosts of a digital talk show which makes kids become the special guests. The best part? It actually talks back to you.

Oren explained the big difference between Toytalk's app and traditional kids shows is this: 'We believe that when conversation is entertaining, it fosters imagination and lets kids explore and grow.'

Voice recognition software harnesses the iPad's microphone makes it possible for Winston to ask questions, listen to the answer and respond to it. Children can actually have an immersive learning experience since the app is teaching them something instead of just giving them the answer. Despite that, Winston can occasionally provide a generic response if he can't understand the question.

Five sketches are built into the application for users to enjoy with over 12 hours of interactive content. Children can choose to compete against a multitude of colorful characters in a variety of quiz shows, create their own story in a segment called Writers Room or just have a fireside chat with Winston on any topic.

When I asked Oren what he feature he was most proud of on Toytalk, he said, "Personally I am most proud that our writing never talks down to kids. We believe that kids always have something smart to say and deserve the same from their entertainment.! "

Instead of opting to premiere their new product on TV, Toytalk decided to bring The Winston Show to the iPad since Oren considered it to be the most "advanced entertainment platform." Also, children were the ideal target for this program because the founders felt that they would be the most receptive audience. 

For now, Toytalk is keeping The Winston Show just on the iPad. Season 2 will be coming out this year but the release date has yet to be announced. If parents are seeking a beneficial way to harness technology for their kids, you can download the app for free here. A demo of the app can be seen below.

Join the conversation about this story »