Kidizoom: Anatomy of a blockbuster toy

Since 2008 the Kidizoom has been one of the top ten toys every year, in terms of sales value. VTech tells Dominic Sacco how it?s hit 1.5 million sales in the UK to date, and looks at the latest Kidizoom Twist Plus in detail.
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“Technology is moving at such a fast rate that electronic learning toys can quickly become outdated.”

But VTech product manager Charlotte Johnson also tells ToyNews that tech toys can stand the test of time by focusing on accessibility and meeting kids’ needs.

“Children are exposed to technology in lots of different forms from a young age and as they get older they want their own versions of a digital camera. And we strive to make technology literally child’s play,” she says.

This technology has played a massive part in Kidizoom’s success. Today the Twist Plus product features a two mega pixel camera with twisting lens, 4x digital zoom, SD card slot, storage for 500 photos and much more (see over the page for extra details), presenting kids with a quality camera.

More importantly, Kidizoom has learning benefits. It encourages imaginative and independent play, fine motor skill and memory development, curiosity, creative play and better hand/eye coordination. 

“The learning element of the VTech Kidizoom is pretty constant as it is based on key developmental stages such as cause and effect, independent play, discovery and exploration,” Johnson adds. “It is how these are presented that keeps products relevant in today’s fast moving world.”

The original Kidizoom first arrived in 2007, combining a camera with other features like games and TV connectivity (see ‘The Evolution of Kidizoom’ to see how it’s changed over time). And of course, VTech is boosting this technology further with the upcoming Kidizoom Touch and Twist Plus products later this year (see ‘Zooming Into The Future’). 

This tech and demand for a child-friendly camera helped the Kidizoom hit 1.5 million sales in the UK, and pick up 15 awards along the way, including multiple accolades like the Practical Pre-School Awards, Toy Talk Awards, Right Start Best Toy Awards, Dream Toys and more. It’s also been in the top ten toy sales lists every year. 

With the Kidizoom Touch and Twist Plus products on the way, it’s more than likely this trend will continue into 2013 and beyond.

KIDIZOOM TWIST PLUS' CORE FEATURES

The Twist Plus has been updated with the latest technology for July 2013. It’s also aimed at kids aged three to nine but has an RRP of £49.99. 

- Two mega pixel camera with twisting lens, 4x digital zoom, SD card slot for memory expansion and built-in flash

- New motion trigger self timer, face detection, stop motion video creator, menu screen personalisation, photo burst mode and more

- 2.3 inch colour LCD screen

- Storage for 500 photos

- Wacky effects and stamps for pictures and videos

- PC connectivity, with the ability for kids to edit photos

PICTURE THIS

“The Kidizoom Twist Plus’ shape and design is an evolution of the original shape in 2007, which is constantly evolving to improve the experience for the child. These enhancements are based on feedback from users as well as our own market research,” says VTech product manager Charlotte Johnson.

“Children were taking lots of pictures of themselves as well as their surroundings, so we included a twisting camera onto the Kidizoom Twist Plus and placed it on top to ensure delivery of the best images and to give the most accurate results when using the viewfinders. Each year the next generation Kidizoom includes updated specs, improved photo quality, effects and features.”

The Kidizoom Twist Plus comes in blue for boys and pink for girls. “This was derived from customer feedback which revealed the colours children find most appealing,” adds Johnson.

BUTTON IT

How did VTech factor in the size and placement of Kidizoom’s buttons?

“During the research we conducted with children, we assessed the physical design of the camera that included the layout of the controls,” Johnson continues.

“The location and design of the buttons have been revised taking into account the position of where a child’s hand naturally falls when playing with the toy. 

“Button size was also taken into consideration, while some essential controls were made larger and easier to manipulate. 

“The delete button was made smaller, to lessen the chance of accidental deletion!”

POWER BOOST

The original Kidizoom was released in 2007 and featured a 0.3 mega pixel sensor, three games and 16MB of memory which was expandable to 2GB using an SD card. So how was this improved over time?

“For the later generations, we increased the sensor to two mega pixels, upgraded the internal memory to 256MB and increased the upper limit of the expandable SD storage,” comments Johnson.

“Throughout the evolution of the Kidizoom range there has been an increase in the number of games, more photo editing functions and an increased frame rate which improves the video taking capabilities, all along with general software and user interface advancements. 

“With each generation of the device, Kidizoom is being constantly improved to ensure the latest technology and learning benefits are delivered to children.”

ZOOMING INTO THE FUTURE

Kidizoom Touch

This device (pictured) boasts a three-inch colour touch screen, two 2MP lenses on the front and back, an MP3 player, SD card expansion and PC connection. It has a large screen, photo morphing features and special effects like black and white, sepia and fish eye. It launches autumn/winter 2013 with a £79.99 RRP, and is aimed at kids aged three to nine.

THE EVOLUTION OF KIDIZOOM

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