This smart dinosaur wants to make friends with kids, unlikely to eat them

This smart toy dinosaur is powered by a supercomputer

Everything’s smart at the moment, from phones to watches, and cars to refrigerators. But what about really smart toys? The CogniToy is probably the smartest we’ve seen yet, because not only is it connected to the Internet, but it’s powered by the same cognitive computing and language technology used by the IBM Watson supercomputer. That’s pretty smart.

The CogniToy, who really needs a proper name, is designed to get to know its owner. It asks questions, listens to and remembers answers – from favorite colors to interests – and can tell jokes. It’ll check the Internet for answers to general questions, with age-appropriate responses of course, and will even make up stories with kids. Educationally, the little dinosaur can help with spelling, vocabulary, math, and other topics in a fun, interactive way.

There’s only one button, and it’s on the dino’s tummy, and it’s used to wake him up. The CogniToy connects to a Wi-Fi network, then communicates with the IBM Watson servers to come up with answers, which are communicated in a normal way. Think of it like Siri for kids, but with a voice like Yoda.

cognitoys

We’ve seen something like this before. Way back in 1997, Microsoft released a toy line called ActiMates, the first of which was based on then-popular purple dinosaur Barney. He talked, sung, and interacted with kids, but sat on a special pedestal connected to a PC. He was also exceptionally irritating, a trait that happily doesn’t seem to have been carried over here.

Back to the CogniToy. Parents aren’t left out, and although they shouldn’t be playing with the dinosaur, a web portal lets them monitor progress through the educational programs, and even see the questions being asked. It’s promised the data sent will be anonymous, and won’t be shared without prior consent.

Aimed at four to seven year-olds, the CogniToy is available through Kickstarter right now, where it has already surpassed its $50,000 goal. The dino costs $100 and only comes in green, unless the campaign reaches $100,000, when other colors will be offered. Deliveries should take place in November, just in time for Christmas.

Product Review

The Safe by Hub6 monitors your alarm system to free you from monthly fees

If paying your monthly alarm monitoring fees have got you seeing red, but you don’t want to scrap your perfectly good alarm system, we’ve got good news. The $250 Safe by Hub6 lets your alarm system talk to you directly without monthly…
Smart Home

Forget Alex Trebek -- let Alexa emcee your next game night with these fun skills

If you're looking to get more use out of your Amazon Echo device, there are lots of games to play with Alexa. From storytelling games to trivia to games for kids, these are some of the best skills to make Alexa more fun.
Movies & TV

20 Netflix hacks, tips, and tricks to make your streaming experience better

Netflix's tried-and-true formula hardly begs for improvement, but you can get even more out of your subscription with these 20 Netflix tips and tricks, sure to improve your online streaming experience.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Emerging Tech

Professional poker players no match for A.I. in six-player Texas Hold ’em

Poker AI Pluribus destroyed professional players in Texas Hold 'em. The bot won an average of $5 per hand with winnings of $1,000 per hour, with strategies that were very different to how humans played the game.
Emerging Tech

Russia launches X-ray observatory capable of locating thousands of black holes

Russia has finally launched its powerful X-ray observatory, Spektr-RG, after a delay caused by faulty batteries on board the spacecraft. The launch took place at 5:30 a.m. PT on Saturday, July 13, taking off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Emerging Tech

Stallone in Terminator 2? How one deepfake prankster is changing cinema history

Ever wanted to see The Shining with Jim Carrey instead of Jack Nicholson? How about Stallone in Terminator 2: Judgement Day instead of everyone's favorite governator? Thanks to deepfakes, it's now possible -- just ask YouTuber Ctrl Shift…
Emerging Tech

See a gargantuan dust storm covering the north pole of Mars

A dust storm around Mars' north pole has been imaged by the Mars Express orbiter. Localized dust storms are common on Mars, but occasionally one expands into a planet-wide event like the one which caused the demise of the Opportunity rover.
Emerging Tech

The Very Large Telescope captures the beautiful remnants of a dying star

The VLT has captured a beautiful cosmic object, the planetary nebula named Abell 24. Located in constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Dog), it is a swirl of dust and gas which is illuminated by the core of a dead star.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers have spotted a moon forming around a proto-Jupiter

Astronomers have spotted a young planet with a disk of gas and dust around it which is similar to the one from which the moons of Jupiter were born. The planet PDS 70 b is in the process of forming and is located 370 light-years away.
Emerging Tech

NASA thinks 3D-printing spacecraft parts in orbit will help Moon to Mars mission

NASA funded the demonstration by a small spacecraft named Archinaut One to manufacture and assemble parts while in space. NASA believes that the technology will change future space exploration, including its Moon to Mars initiative.
Emerging Tech

Flyboard Air soars over Paris during France’s national day celebrations

Franky Zapata, the inventor of the jet-powered Flyboard Air, showed off his machine during France's Bastille Day celebrations on Sunday. The impressive display was even given a nod of approval by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Deals

Save with Prime Day deals on DNA kits from Ancestry, 23andme, and Living DNA

Prime Day is a great time to order a DNA kit. Over the years, kits from various providers have been deeply discounted -- and this year's no exception. Kits from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and Living DNA are on sale for as much as half off…
Emerging Tech

Airport hotel builds a full-sized flight simulator into one of its guest rooms

Aviation enthusiasts flying out of Tokyo's Haneda Airport, there's a new hotel room designed just for you. It features a full-sized Boeing 737-800 flight simulator, though you'll have to pay extra to use it.