11 Award-Winning Kids’ Toys, Apps, & More To Watch

11 Award-Winning Kids’ Toys, Apps, & More To Watch

This year’s KAPi awards covered all the top trends, from VR and AR to interactive apps and podcasts. Find out what (or who) won the top spot in each category…

Ypulse was in Las Vegas this month, spending some quality time with the team from Living In Digital Times at their 2018 FamilyTech/Kids@Play Summit. CES has become bigger than big, so it’s nice to swim away from the raging river of new product releases and announcements into an eddy of high quality content produced by a group of thoughtful industry experts who are exploring how toys and technology are impacting young people.

Raising a child in our modern, digital times is indeed a challenge. An increasing number of us on the Ypulse team have children in our lives and homes (congratulations MaryLeigh!!!), so we’re entirely sympathetic to the issues parents grapple with as they stand stoically in the aisles of toy retailers who have recently filed for bankruptcy, listening to the plaintive cries of their beloved offspring for “more” while desperately attempting to encourage restraint.

Regardless of what side of the toy limitation debate you fall on, you’re either looking for that single, special toy that will help round out your carefully curated playscape or looking for something non-toxic that might distract your precious offspring for a just a single, six-minute downfield drive during playoff football.

Living in Digital Times and Children’s Technology Review partner every year to present an annual award for the best in kids’ tech and media. Their 9th annual Kids@Play Interactive (KAPi) award ceremony outlined a number of promising candidates for consideration within toy boxes across the nation. Here are the winners:

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketingBest App (Younger Children): Sago Mini World, Sago Mini

It took a small Canadian team of designers, many of them parents themselves, to create this safe, vibrant home for the very first tech users. The unique subscription model is commercial free, and packed with updated things to discover. 

Best App (Older Children): Messenger Kids, Facebook

Many have tried but few have succeeded to fulfill a family’s desire to let their young children have access to messaging. After copious research and careful attention to privacy and permission, Facebook’s powerful Messenger Kids will open a much-needed line of communication between children and parents.

Best Peripheral: Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2, VTech

Judges agreed: the Kidizoom 2017 smartwatch bests the competition in the kid’s wearable category. There’s no GPS for tracking, but the two cameras, color touch screen, motion/step counter, and suite of games make this affordable peripheral an ideal first watch for any child. And it tells time. 

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketingBest Content Distribution: WOW in the World Podcast for Kids by Tinkercast on NPR

“Where does an astronaut poop?” NPR’s Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas have the answer to this, and many other important questions in this podcast specifically designed to delight kids (and their parents). 

Best AR/VR Application: Merge Cube, Merge VR

Virtual and augmented reality apps and toys were easy to find this year. Tools like Apple’s AR kit have created an endless stream of exciting new kids’ products. Merge VR rises to the top by giving children a concrete prop that they can hold in their hands.

Best Maker Product: Circuit Cubes, Tenka Labs 

Simplistic fun that turns a consumer into a creator right out of the box. Unlike the other maker kits that were released this year, Circuit Cubes is designed to play well with other brands of toys, from stuffed animals to Tinker Toys and LEGOs.

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketingMost Creative: Beasts of Balance, Sensible Object

Jurors loved this clever balancing act (literally) between physical, stackable building parts and AR. Warning—this game can get addicting. 

Award for Innovation: Lenovo Star Wars Jedi Challenge, Lenovo 

OK, let’s admit it. We all want to have our own lightsaber. Lenovo has created a combination headset, app, beacon, and light saber that comes close to pulling you right into your own battle. 

Best Physical/Digital Merger: LEGO Boost, LEGO 

Build one of five variations of a robot (or concoct your own) with this LEGO kit, program it using a simple block-oriented language, and then enjoy your play session with your new interactive creation. This clever leveraging of the LEGO brand offers kids a seamless way to code, build, and play.

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketingBest Thing that Flies: Aura Drone with Glove Controller, KD Group

We love it when a toy makes you feel like you have magical powers. This drone comes with a glove that turns your hand into a motion controller, making it super easy to pilot with just a flick of the wrist! 

Emerging Pioneer: Vikas Gupta, Wonder Workshop

Vikas Gupta had a perfectly lovely life as the Head of Consumer Payments at Google, but his vision of creating playmate robots that would teach kids (including his own) how to code was his passion. With Dot and Dash, a robotic duo, and the new Cue, which has emotional intelligence and personality, he’s taught countless kids about the joys of coding. 

With the New York Toy Fair right around the corner, we’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled on worthy new additions to your child’s playroom. You can confidently ignore the behavior of our own children and trust us…we’re experts.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here