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Roundup: Robotics, Video Games, and the IoT

By: Karina Masolova,

Lucasfilm gathered Facebook, Fitbit, Industrial Light & Magic, Instagram, Twitter, and Google together to inspire the next generation of inventors at the first-ever Droidathon, an invention competition running from Nov. 15–Jan. 10. Using the littleBits Droid Inventor Kit as a starting point, teams of kid engineers, programmers, and designers created innovative robots.

Mattel and Pixel Press team up with Lucasfilm to launch Star Wars Bloxels, a new educational line that encourages youngsters to create their own video games. The build-and-play platform uses brightly colored blocks and a Death Star-themed game board to customize, build and share games.

Marvel cuts ties with Gazillion Entertainment, maker of MMO video game Marvel Heroes. The free-to-play game was beset with problems following rounds of internal layoffs at the game published. The game was online for four years and will phase out into the new year.

User-generated gaming platform Roblox signs a licensing deal with Bioworld, which will release branded apparel in stores across North America this fall.

Consumer Sentiment

An Amazon-backed survey study from the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) reveals that 70% of parents are comfortable with their child having a connected device or toy. Nearly half of connected children have three or more devices—50% of parents reported that their child has a video game console, 32% a WiFi-enabled device like a cell phone or music player, 29% a computer, and 10% a wearable device like a smartwatch or fitness tracker. In the home generally, 23% of families have a smart speaker, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, and 67% have a smart TV. FOSI reports that the top concern for parents of connected children is the prospect of bad actors communicating with children or locating them with GPS tracking.

Meanwhile, U.K. consumer rights group Which? warns parents about the risks of giving connected toys to their children. The group published specific findings on four different toys—Furby Connect, I-Que Intelligent Robot, Toy-fi Teddy, and CloudPets cuddly toy. Which? highlighted insecure Bluetooth connections, unencrypted voice recordings in publicly accessible online databases, and other vulnerabilities that might make it possible for people to re-engineer a connected device’s firmware and turn the toy into a listening device.


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