Print 13 comment(s) - last by OoklaTheMok.. on Jan 12 at 12:58 PM

Be warned your child may be screaming for a tablet soon

As if "Tickle-me Elmo" wasn't bad enough, now the Sesame Workshop -- makers of Sesame Street -- have to come along and whip children into a frenzy over smartphones and tablets.

At a humorous section in Qualcomm Inc.'s (QCOM) Tuesday morning presser, Sesame Workshop director and chief operating officer H. Melvin Ming talked about how he never knew what he was going to face for the day -- adults or screaming kids.  He quipped, "I'm relieved to be in a room today with tech-savvy adults."

H. Melvin Ming

Soon Grover took to the stage for a jaw-dropping (for Grover at least) demo of a hot new high tech toy from Sesame Workshop.  The Sesame Street Playset is a series of nondescript blocks, but it uses Qualcomm's Vuforia -- an augmented reality (AR) and 3D modelling suite -- to bring the objects to life.  

Sesame Street Qualcomm

By taking pictures of the 3D characters (think little Sesame Street action figures), Bert and Ernie sprung to life on the smartphone/tablet, talking to the observer.  You could take more pictures of objects to add more vibrant objects to the room -- such as a TV that insulted Grover's waiting skills and a jukebox.

Sesame Street
Sesame Toys

Of course the thing is a great deal for both Sesame Workshop, Qualcomm, and smartphone/tablet-makers everywhere because in order to get this hot new toy you have to both buy the playset and a compatible Qualcomm-equipped smartphone or tablet.

Sesame Street demo

But ponying up the likely $300+ USD cost of the system is for a good cause, they insist as the playset reportedly helps children build:
  • social skills
  • language skills
  • creativity
Grover drew slightly less enthusiasm from the audience for his promised upcoming electronic eggbeater.  But can you blame him for trying?

All images © of Jason Mick and DailyTech LLC.

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Electronics are not for children
By OoklaTheMok on 1/11/2012 12:30:44 PM , Rating: 3
You know what helps build a child’s social skills? Interacting with people.

I really wish people would stop thinking that computers and media are the solutions to educating children. All it does is placate a child’s need for attention and interaction. It is more a tool of distraction than a true tool of education.

The best educational tool for a child is a person, who will listen, play and read to them.

RE: Electronics are not for children
By hankw on 1/11/2012 1:01:41 PM , Rating: 3
You obviously don't have kids. You are not always available to interact with your children 24/7. This is much better than sitting them in front of the TV.

RE: Electronics are not for children
By Taft12 on 1/11/2012 2:21:13 PM , Rating: 1
I have kids and they don't need to interact with ME when I'm not available to interact, they have each other.

I don't think this is all that much better than sitting them in front of a TV, and it's definitely no better than "creating a virtual world" using educational software for a PC (much cheaper!).

Their list of educational benefits is pretty lame. It'll be a hot toy for parents that have money, but without free time to spend with their kids (that used to describe me!)

RE: Electronics are not for children
By hankw on 1/11/2012 3:03:05 PM , Rating: 2
That's assuming you have more than one kid and that they are old enough to play with each other. (Think of the age group this Sesame Street targets)
I don't think anyone is claiming that this is something that your child should do exclusively, but I see no issues in letting my child have some fun with these kinds of apps/games.

By OoklaTheMok on 1/12/2012 12:44:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yes I have kids, three kids in fact. Two whom had regular tv and media exposure, and our youngest without regular or frequent tv and media exposure. Our youngest is much more patient, inquisitive, self-entertaining and balanced than the older kids at the same age.

Additionally, if you were familiar with the report from the Journal of Pediatrics, you would know that young children should have very limited "screen time". Screen time is any exposure to a tv, computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.

While you are not always able to drop everything to interact with a child, they should be able to engage themselves with other things such as puzzles, looking at books, drawing, banging on things, etc.

A screen is not an educator, a friend, or a babysitter.

RE: Electronics are not for children
By Visual on 1/11/2012 1:36:35 PM , Rating: 2
Computers and media are a great way of interacting with people, if that is what you wanted to do with them. I don't know about "read to them", but a child can possibly get millions of people that will listen to and play with them. At the same time.

Or, you know, it can just waste all its time interacting with (and by that I mostly mean killing) some artificial virtual "people". But that's not the computer's fault.

My point is, computers are a tool with great potential and you should not dismiss them so lightly. But like all tools, there are many ways to use them.

RE: Electronics are not for children
By xti on 1/11/2012 1:58:28 PM , Rating: 3
are you so ridiculously narrow minded that you think this would be the only tool to help build social skills? This would be, like others are saying, one of the many approaches, including them just playing with others at the playground.

stop trying to get a 5.

yeah build those child skills
By kleinma on 1/11/2012 12:05:40 PM , Rating: 2
They forgot to list autism as one of the skills it will help young minds build...

Here develop some social skills by burying your face in a computer screen from age 1.

RE: yeah build those child skills
By geddarkstorm on 1/11/2012 2:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, really?

Autism has nothing to do with computers. I have a brother with Asperger's, so I know first hand how much of an idiot you made yourself sound with that comment. Autism renders a person unable to process, view or communicate the world in any sense like people without it, from day one.

Moreover, I hate to break it to you, but we live in a digital age. We communicate to employers through e-mails, hunt for jobs, order equipment, find information we need, manage and store data, write documents and presentations, all through computers. If a child even has a hope of really succeeding in this new age, they can't be sheltered away from technology in a bunker. A device like this lets them build social AND technological skills: absolutely invaluable for our future civilization. And yes, you need to get your kid outside and playing, and teach them everything they need for face to face social skills, using their imagination, physical activity, making friends, etc--but a device like this doesn't hinder that, only you as a parent. Ultimately, this is just a TOY, potential tool and source of fun; but it's the PARENT who must provide and guide a child's learning, using this tool and -many- others, and that's up to the parent's discretion. But there's nothing inherent in this device that could ever hurt a child, and it could be a big help.

The world changes. If you can't change with it, you get left behind.

RE: yeah build those child skills
By Etsp on 1/11/2012 2:49:27 PM , Rating: 2
I've heard of some interesting developments regarding Autism and computers. There are people working on projects that tries to facilitate communication for autistic people by allowing them to use an approach that they may have an easier time dealing with, rather than speech or text.

As an example, instead of typing on a keyboard, they are shown images on a touchscreen interface that symbolizes part of what they want to say. Needless to say, every autistic person is different, and that only helps some of them, so this is only one of the approaches that they are trying.

By OoklaTheMok on 1/12/2012 12:58:01 PM , Rating: 2
I can only hope that in the previous post, the person meant ADHD rather than autism...

Adults live in a digital world, yes, but children need to be able to be children without the interference of gadgets and technology. I make my living by creating technology, so I understand the importance. But gadgets are not replacements for the real and tangible elements of the world. Too often we as a society are seduced by the merits of technology and how it can "improve" our children. But that is a false notion. Our children do not need improving by means of technology, they need nurturing by parents and educators. As a child grows and matures, then they are more capable to distinguish between technology as a tool, versus technology as a caretaker.

By khansdad on 1/11/2012 2:42:43 PM , Rating: 2
The AR works on top of a live video feed. You don't take snapshots. You just point the camera at the toy and the wooden blocks are replaced with 3D characters on the fly!

They had it on display at the Qualcomm booth as well.

By Arbie on 1/11/2012 4:00:54 PM , Rating: 2
Which BTW did not hurt social skills any more than this would. A toy is what you give kids for when they can't be with others. This is just another toy, but with some serious educational potential. A carry-around, play anytime, tutor on almost anything. How about games in a choice of second languages? It can be wonderful.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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