India offers a growing market for smart toys

April 28, 2019

India offers huge potential to global smart toy makers with ready capabilities in AI, IoT, AR and VR technologies in the nation

The fascination for smart and connected toy sis such that sources forecast the global smart toys market to reach US$54 billion by 2024

India, with over 120 IoT firms and more than 400 AI startups, has the technical and technological skills to power an IoT revolution

In India, Smart Toys are regulated under 43A of the IT Act; The new data protection laws will enable data and privacy protection

From the smartphones in our hands to the refrigerators in our homes, the AI-IoT smart combo is everywhere. With the world moving towards new and connected technologies in almost every sphere of life, starting with lifestyle to work, leisure, health, and entertainment, it is quite natural that toys should also be AI and IoT driven. It is already obvious that more and more children are disenchanted with traditional toys and are looking for entertainment in technology-driven toys and gizmos. The fascination is such that sources predict that the global smart toys market will reach US$54 billion by 2024. There is no doubt that the time for Smart Toys has arrived.

India’s Smart toy industry has the technologies and talent to create IoT enabled entertainment gizmos. It is prepared to develop, manufacture and supply state-of-the-art Smart Toys to its own large, upwardly mobile domestic middle-class market as well as the international market.

Smart toy-manufacturers are tapping into this growing, high-value market and creating toys that can own this space. Digitally enabled, voice and image recognition toys, screenless toys, app-enabled mechanical toys, health-tracking toys, wearables, toys-to-life, connected puzzles, and building games have taken over from the traditional rag dolls and toys cars of the past. Smart Toys are engaging with children in newer and more captivating ways and are enchanting both children and parents with their multidimensional uses. Along with connecting to the internet and capturing the modern child’s fascination with the electronic and digital medium, Smart Toys also open doors to a vast world of skills and knowledge development.

India as a market and as a supplier

In this growing market, India offers huge potential to global players. There is huge potential in partnering with Indian Startups who are quite prepared to develop, manufacture and supply state-of-the-art Smart Toys to its own large, upwardly mobile domestic middle-class market and the international market as well. India’s Smart toy industry has the technologies and talent to create entertainment gizmos which are IoT enabled.

Smartivity, an Indian startup designs the most innovative learning and technology enabled educational toys for young children. Pioneers of Augmented Reality activities for children and designers of the most unique, world-class S.T.E.M. learning based educational D.I.Y. toys for children, Smartivity Labs builds in a large element of play into learning. The India based company is counted as global consumer brand in the toy industry in highly discerning markets such as USA, Canada, Europe and Australia. Gamaya, a Sunnyvale based startup founded by an Indian is a ‘toys-to-life’ gaming company which makes Indian, Chinese and Japanese mythological characters accessible in a format that marries the physical with the virtual.

The toys are designed in Sunnyvale, manufactured in Hong Kong and Gamaya’s Chennai office produces the web series. PlayShifu, an Indian tech start-up is known for its Augmented Reality-based smart toys such as the Orboot globe which helps children discover people, places, heritages and culture in different parts of the world. Minio technologies is building a platform for connected toys, where children can play with family and friends. These are only some of the players operating in India’s Smart Toys market.

Multinationals in the Smart Toys space

Fisher-Price Inc., Spin Master Corp, LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., Seebo Interactive Ltd, Genesis Toy Co. Ltd, Wow Wee Group Ltd, Reach Robotics Ltd, Activision Blizzard Inc., Hasbro Inc. and SmartGurlz ApS are the leading players in the global smart toys market.  Some of them are already present in India.

Child-friendly AI gadgets presently available include cutesy Anki Cozmo robot, the trainable robo-pup Aibo, and Amazon’s Echo Dot kids’ edition. There’s also a PUB G-inspired toy – where kids get to wear helmets and use toy weapons to recreate the virtual game in the physical world. Lego toys that use technology include Lego Hidden Side, which provides an augmented reality experience, Lego Duplo Train, for early coding, Lego Boost robotics and digital building instructions.

Recognising the potential for non-traditional toys, India’s National Institute of Design introduced a course on Toy and Game Design as early as 2002. All India Toys Manufacturers’ Association is working with NID on the interaction of physical toys with digital properties, to give children an enhanced playtech experience.

A nascent market internationally, the Smart Toys space is not strictly regulated by policies yet. Worldwide, there is concern about the safety and privacy issues of Smart Toys in the hands of children.  In India however, Smart Toys are currently regulated under 43A of the IT Act and when the new data protection laws are enacted, the new set of rules will apply to them, according to Sunil Abraham, executive director, Centre for Internet and Society, a Bengaluru-based research organisation, as quoted by LiveMint

India’s IoT landscape

India with its 120 IoT firms of which 60 per cent are startups, has the necessary technical and technological skills to power an IoT revolution, according to a whitepaper released by NASSCOM. One of the pillars of its IoT focus is IoT Beyond the Obvious (IoT BtO).  Smart Toys would do well to feature under the umbrella of this pillar and gain from the wealth of knowledge and infrastructural support provided by the non-profit organization and its global affiliates.