Whether in electric toys, baby monitors or, more recently, even diapers: smart technology is conquering the children’s room. Experts see a market worth billions.

The technology makes it possible: In autumn, Pampers – initially only in the USA – launches a smart diaper on the market. Lumi by Pampers combines a video camera with an activity sensor and combines the information in an app. The activity sensor on the diaper shows parents how full it is. It detects diaper changes and parents can update this data in the app. According to Pampers, Lumi is supposed to help see patterns in the baby’s daily routine. Numerous other smart products for children’s equipment are already on the market, such as socks that measure heart rate and oxygen saturation and transmit them to an app. Or baby monitors that send video recordings of the infant to the parents’ smartphone. Smart devices are also conquering the hearts of small customers in the toy sector. Experts from the market research company Hexa Research predict strong worldwide sales growth of more than 15 percent annually to more than 24 billion US dollars in 2025.

What is the turnover of smart toys?

According to the Hexa Research study “Smart Toys Market Size and Forecast”, smart toys are popular with parents and children alike. Children appreciate the interactivity and the technical experience. Parents and guardians see it as an effective medium for promoting children’s intellectual abilities. According to the experts, the educational factor is particularly important. This point has prompted the industry to bring devices with advanced speech recognition functions and hardware sensors onto the market. The aim is to make products smarter, more interactive and more dynamic. The target group is becoming younger and younger. In the USA alone, smart toys for preschool children achieved sales of 3.07 billion dollars in 2017. The study even predicts annual growth of over 16 percent for toddlers.

Specialist stores are the main source of sales

The most important sales channel for Smart Toys are specialist stores. They recently accounted for 40 percent of the market share. Significant competition comes from online platforms. In recent years, many manufacturers have invested in e-commerce. The Hexa Research study sees annual growth rates of 16 percent for smart toys sold online. Whether it’s a smart talking doll, a filming baby monitor or a clever interactive laptop: many politicians, parents and experts have concerns about data protection. For example, the federal states are demanding that a uniform IT security certification for smart toys be implemented at EU level. “Children are particularly inexperienced and are generally unable to adequately assess risks and consequences. I therefore consider it essential to inform parents that clear and unambiguous information about the purpose and extent of data storage is already printed on the packaging of the product. We need a label that provides information on data intensity and data economy,” says NRW’s Consumer Protection Minister Ursula Heinen-Esser.

Data protection as a sensitive issue

The TÜV Association agrees: “The 2011 European Toy Directive is no longer up to date and urgently needs to be revised,” says Dr. Joachim Bühler, Managing Director of the TÜV Association. “Toys are increasingly equipped with digital functions and are connected to the Internet. Neither security against IT attacks nor data protection are sufficiently taken into account in the current EU directive.” The TÜV association sees risks with networked toys that manufacturers must take into account. The communication of the data connections should be exclusively encrypted. A high level of password protection should also be implemented in the devices. In addition, companies should provide regular software updates and take data protection into account. Retailers who want to find out about secure smart toys and product tests can do so on the part of the EU and the Ministry of Family Affairs. Klicksafe.de is an EU initiative for more security on the net. At surfen-ohne-risiko.net you will find test results of internet-enabled toys with a risk assessment, sponsored by the Ministry of Family Affairs.

 

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Link: The market research company Hexa Research has investigated the field of Smart Toys.

Image: Pampers

//KH