Ever since Siri first showed up on the iPhone, adults have become used to talking to their phones in a semi-natural way to get information and activate hands-free controls. Siri even manages to be funny sometimes (when she's not being a little scary).
What if you could take the fun interactivity of a digital assistant like Siri, replace the robotic voice with a more cheerful, cartoonish one and stick it inside a plush teddy bear? You'd get WikiBear. As the name suggests, WikiBear utilizes Internet sources to drive an artificial intelligence engine inside. It doesn't only draw from Wikipedia; the designers use multiple online databanks, including some they've developed on their own.
WikiBear can also utilize data from certain apps on a smartphone, which you'll need to make WikiBear work. With an app and a wireless connection to the plush toy, your Android or iOS device becomes WikiBear's brains. As long as it's connected, the toy will converse with kids, answer questions, tell jokes and even get a little sarcastic.
Even though it draws from the web, the app will ensure that whatever the bear says it will be kid-friendly. To quiet WikiBear down for bedtime, simply disconnect it from the phone — he's now just another cuddly plush.
Thanks to its Internet connection, WikiBear will always be up to date and can grow more sophisticated over time. The majority of the intelligence comes apparently from the app, which can be updated at any time to ensure that the toy stays engaging for years, as long as the internal mechanics don't burn out.
The WikiBear in Commonwealth Toys' demo video isn't the final model, so it sounds a lot like Siri at the moment. When it launches this summer, the bear will sound like a kid and speak a bit more realistically.
Price: Anticipated at about $60 at commonwealthtoy.com