CeBIT Fair Showcases Latest Smart Toys

Dima Suchin
By Dima Suchin
March 22, 2017Science & Tech

These wooden blocks might not look especially high-tech, but they’re smarter than they look. The game is called ‘imagno’ and it’s the first product by German startup Metoi. The blocks are connected to a smartphone that displays different games, stories, or sounds depending on the shape the blocks are arranged in.

Matoi CEO Kerstin Rudat designed the game with her three children in mind. She said the aim is to attract device hooked children to real games, instead of spending all their time on smartphones or tablets.

“We want our children to play with this (shows wooden blocks), but they want to play with this (shows smartphone).”

“We try to take the best from both worlds and bring them together, both the wood and the high-tech. We have created smart blocks with invisible sensors that are controlled by an app. I can make figures or stories in the app and the child gets acoustic feedback when they build the figure,” she explains.

The game is still in the test phase, but Metoi hopes to start selling it before the end of this year.

Another smart game trying to get children active and moving is this Knoocker interactive wall. The Polish company behind the game, also called Knoocker, has developed 14 games that can be played by throwing balls at any wall.

The hardware is a projector and four microphones, which hear where the balls have hit the wall. If the balls hit the correct place, the player gets a point.

That means the game can be installed on any wall, unlike a large touch screen.

But at a cost of 4,000 euros (approx. US$4,300) the target market isn’t families. It’s more geared toward child care centers, hospitals, airports, and anywhere else that children need to be entertained, but also active.

So far the company has sold about 50 of the games.

“We wanted to make a game that makes children move when they play and that is our product,” said Dominka Siwik from Knoocker.

For music lovers, MelodyScanner is a way to get children, or perhaps even adults, interested in playing and reading music.

The idea is simple: Any song, from an mp3 file to a YouTube video, can be imported to the program.

The software then detects the song’s notes and creates a note sheet or turns it into a game that can be played using tabs.

“That means that you import that mp3 or the YouTube video and our intelligent algorithm analyzes the music and creates a musical notes sheet for any instrument, for example a keyboard,” said Sebastian Murgul, the founder of the company.

The Karlsruhe-based company has also developed an app that brings the tabs or notes straight to a smartphone.

Kassel-based Sminno is also working with audio.

Their smartphone holder for bikes has been designed to amplify sounds from the device’s speaker.

That means riders can listen to music or audio directions while on their bikes without headphones or a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker.

“So this is the first hands-free kit for bikes. It means every smartphone, from 3 to 6 inch fits inside this case,” explains Sohrab Noorzaie, CEO of Sminno.

“And the construction form and material amplifies your sound. So if you listen to music, you don’t need headphones. If you listen to navigation voice, you don’t need headphones. And for the first time you can do phone calls without any back noises.”

The CeBit digital business fair runs until March 24, 2017. The partner country this year is Japan.


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