Technology is the name of the game at International Tokyo Toy Show

As technology creeps into every aspect of life, the toy industry is putting up no defense. The invasion was on full display as the International Tokyo Toy Show kicked off Thursday.

The nation’s foremost toy trade show drew 160 exhibitors and about 35,000 toys at Tokyo Big Sight, an exhibition center in the city’s Koto Ward.

Toy makers are incorporating technology into products across the board.

As technology creeps into every aspect of life, the toy industry is putting up no defense. The invasion was on full display as the International Tokyo Toy Show kicked off Thursday.

The nation’s foremost toy trade show drew 160 exhibitors and about 35,000 toys at Tokyo Big Sight, an exhibition center in the city’s Koto Ward.

Toy makers are incorporating technology into products across the board.

For instance, Tomy Co. has a new virtual reality set on show that takes people on a virtual trip into space. The device goes on sale this winter.

A headgear device, it has a socket for a smartphone connection and displays video from an app on the phone that gives a 360-degree view of space.

“We’ve been wanting to create VR toys for quite some time,” said Eiichi Sugawa, an assistant section manager of a product planning team at Tomy. “As people are calling this year the beginning of the VR era, we wanted to release a product this year.”

VR is indeed a hot topic in the tech and video game industries.

Facebook-owned Oculus and Taiwan-based smartphone maker HTC have already released VR devices and Sony is set to launch its PlayStation VR later this year.

But the Oculus and HTC devices cost around ¥100,000 and require a user to set up a high-specification computer.

PlayStation VR will be priced around ¥45,000, but the user must have a PlayStation 4.

By contrast, Tomy said its VR gadget will retail for around ¥10,000, and needs only a smartphone to pair with.

The firm’s goal is “to provide the latest gadgets that people can use casually, at a reasonable price,” Sugawa said, adding that their product targets adults who want to use virtual travel to relax.

MegaHouse Corp. is showcasing a VR headset with smartphone socket that enables people to play video games.

So strong is the trend of technology in the world of toys that it can be traced in sales figures.

According to the Japan Toy Association, sales of high-tech toys soared by 31.8 percent in fiscal 2015.

In line with this, companies are even adding tech updates to traditional toys.

At first glance, MegaHouse’s Oekaki Artist (Drawing Artist) resembles a drawing board for small children.

But it has more than a few tricks up its sleeve and is essentially a tablet computer.

For instance, the board can add digital motion to images drawn on it, and users can make animations.

The board is also equipped with a camera and can render photographed objects as drawings that people can then embellish with lines and color.

Shuji Kobayashi, chief of new business creative projects at MegaHouse, said the company wanted to create something that lowers the barrier for children who are not skilled at drawing and who might otherwise get no pleasure from it.

Another fusion of technology and tradition is seen in Robotist, from Artec Co., which consists of Lego-like blocks that join to build robots with the help of a circuit board.

Once connected to a circuit, the robots can be programmed with a computer to move — an activity that facilitates programming education for children.

Yusuke Shimokata of Tokyo-based Artec, a maker of educational materials, said the firm came up with the toy so children can see their programming enacted by real objects.

Other tech-related toys on show include drones and a radio-controlled submarine with an under-water camera.

There were also many gadgets that work with smartphones.

The show runs through Sunday.

Via JT

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