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BW Businessworld

The Little Wonders

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You're always looking around for toys for your child to have fun with and learn. Your kid probably looks around even more! And there are lots out there to satisfy both. Here are a few that bowled us over.

If you've been scouring the Internet for knowledge on the moon, planets and motley stars and constellations to quench your child's thirst for knowledge, help is at hand. Bushnell's Voyager Sky Tour telescope (sold in India by AM Industrial Enterprises) is a real telescope, but with a twist. It comes with inbuilt content on the planetary bodies that can be seen at night. Once you stare up the telescope and point it to the night sky, the device lets you know which planetary bodies are available for viewing that night. Then as you point the telescope to a particular planet or a constellation, the handset that accompanies the telescope holds forth with interesting facts and even mythological beliefs about it. Price: Rs 22,000

A remote-controlled underwater game called RC Cyber Ray (by SwimWays) is a mechanical avatar of the Stingray fish, complete with a long, wobbling tail. As your child swims (underwater even), he can use a remote control (it's waterproof, silly!) to make the toy move in all directions, and even loop out of the water like a dolphin (haven't seen Stingrays loop like dolphins, but who cares). The RC Cyber Ray is 17 inches long, and has a 12-inch wingspan. Eyes and nose that light up only add to the fun. Price: $129 (Rs 5,800)

If history and geography classes turn your child off, here's something that makes them interesting. The Smart Globe Deluxe, by Oregon Scientific, comes bundled with a smart pen and a speaker. You point the pen at a country on the globe, and the speaker spouts out the name of the country, its capital, language, currency, local wildlife, and much more. The pen can be programmed for content appropriate to your child's age, and there is a quiz mode, too, where your child's knowledge can be put to the test. Price: $99 (Rs 4,455)

How do you ensure your child never loses his way? Give him a GPS device, of course! Yeah, well, GPS devices are complex enough for adults, how can a child make sense of it? He can, provided the device is simple and does not have confusing maps. Confused? Well, Bushnell's BackTrack Digital Compass looks like an oversized digital watch, but is actually a simplified GPS device with a self-calibrating digital compass. Your child marks the location where he is starting off (like, say, your home), and then goes wherever. When it's time to return, he selects the starting point again and, hey presto, the compass marks out the return path. Some of us adults could use it, too, especially for locating a car in a humungous parking lot, or the hotel before setting out for sightseeing in a strange city. Price: Rs 6,000

For the gadget-curious kid (which one isn't?) comes, hold your breath, an Android-powered tablet PC! Isabella's Fable has a 7-inch touchscreen with a customised user interface. The device will be launched in mid-2011, and will come with pre-loaded children's content from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Apart from providing pre-loaded content, Fable connects to a website run by Isabella called, where children can read up on fairy tales and other stories using a pre-loaded e-reader application; draw to their hearts' content; play interactive games focusing on counting, reading, nutrition, colors, shapes and other educational themes; and even share photographs of friends and family. It allows parents to restrict access to material, control downloads, and also create a list of people with whom online interaction can be done. Price: $159-$179 (Rs 7,155-8,055)

SMART LIVING: The Fable tablet (left) and the Backtrack GPS device are innovative hi-tech gadgets for kids

You know what your child feels when he gets a signed autograph of Sachin Tendulkar. Here's a gadget that can record a message from your star! The Rawlings Recordable Autograph Ball is a baseball-shaped thingy — okay, so it's not exactly what Tendulkar hits — and has a chip that records a message for 12 seconds. There is also a 1.5-inch slot for a photograph of your star, and a locking mechanism that prevents the to-die-for message from getting overwritten. Of course, you can overwrite it if you wish, in case you meet a bigger star. Price: $24.98 (Rs 1,124)These, incidentally, comprise just the tip of the iceberg; there are cellphones for kids that come with parental control, high-tech safes that get your little ones hooked on to the savings route, stuffed toy making machines that make toys to order based on your child's demands, and much more. Makes you want to turn into a little one again? We can imagine.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 14-03-2011)