Kids at Play Interactive Awards winners revealed ahead of CES 2019

"We're seeing an effort by the kids' community to develop more open-ended, low-cost opportunities for play, and that's a good thing."
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Hasbro's Nerf and Sensible Object's Amazon Alexa board game When in Rome have been named among the winners of this year's Kids at Play Interactive Awards.

The awards programme has been devised to recognise the most innovative games, software, devices and apps for educating and entertaining today's digital generation.

The 10th annual KAPi Awards, developed by Living in Digital Times and Children's Technology Review announced the winners ahead of the ceremony that will take place at CES 2019 in Las Vegas next January.

More than 500 children's technology products were evaluated for the 2019 KAPi Awards, all released in 2018. The products were evaluated by an independent jury of industry and editorial experts under the direction of Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children's Technology Review.

"We're seeing an effort by the kids' community to develop more open-ended, low-cost opportunities for play, and that's a good thing," said Robin Raskin, president and founder of Living in Digital Times. 

"Of special note this year is the use of technology that has 'no screens' attached and uses voice as an input device."

The 2019 KAPi Award winners:

Lifetime Achievement: Fred Rogers (Posthumous)

Pioneer: Jesse Schell,
Teacher, author and speaker, Jesse Schell is a "VR-aholic" who teaches in the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Schell Games, his Pittsburgh-based studio, has been the force behind many noteworthy products including Happy Atoms, a 2016 KAPi winner, and I Expect You To Die, a VR spy thriller.

Best Hardware: Echo Dot Kids by Amazon. This device puts 300 Audible books, like Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan, thousands of songs, kid-favourite games and COPPA compliant kid skills, all awaiting your child's verbal command.

Best Overall Tech: Nintendo Labo by Nintendo. 
Nintendo Labo merges maker play with screens. Jurors called it "a gutsy, slightly insane merger between concrete and abstract that reminded us all how screens can support any type of play." 

Best Maker Spirit: Itty Bitty Buggy by Microduino.
This CPT (Code Programmable Toy) lets you programme a buggy to trace lines on a map and recognise colours and voice commands via bluetooth, using your own device as a remote. 

Best Robot: JIMU Overdrive Kit by Ubtech.  
This year's jurors liked the possibilities offered by the most recent addition to the JIMU line, with 400 parts, speedy servo motors and a variety of sensors for light and motion.

Most Novel Tech: When In Rome by Sensible Object. 
When in Rome is an engaging trivia game for the whole family that relies on Alexa to provide clues, guide game play and add real-world information. Moreover, because the game can be continually updated, it's different every time it's played. Jurors liked the ability to keep the game different every time it's played.

Best Mixed Reality: Untamed/Battle ARena by WowWee and Happy Giant
In 2017 WowWee's Fingerlings were a big deal in the toy world. This year, Untamed Dinosaurs take the play a step further with the ability to step into Augmented Reality, thanks to an accessory app. Jurors liked the new play possibilities added onto an already solid toy.

Best Educational Product: Snap Circuits BRIC Structures by Elenco. 
The classic Snap Circuits have been mixed up with a compatible set of construction bricks. Jurors were impressed by the diverse projects and open-ended potential of the play.

Best Physical Play: Nerf Laser Ops Pro by Hasbro. 
The sophisticated design allows players to blast an IR beam as far as 300 feet. Add a smart device for real-time battle "intel," solo play mode or GPS tracking of teammates and opponents. This encourages active, play and fun on the run.

Best Video Game: Starlink: Battle for Atlas by Ubisoft. 
This is a deep, narrative-based, open world game that combines physical toys with the story. Connect pilots and ships to the game controller to see changes in the game instantly. The combination of physical and digital play is well done and very much on trend for today's kids.

The 2019 KAPi Award Honorable Mentions:

StoryBall: Jurors liked the physical and digital open-ended story play that uses games, stories and challenges to encourage children to play using their bodies instead of a computer screen.

NovelEffect: This great new literacy product brings families together with reading, storytelling magic and sound effects.

The judges for this year's KAPi Awards consisted of a panel of leading journalists and publishers:

  • Warren Buckleitner, Children's Technology Review
  • Amanda Gummer, Fundamentally Children
  • Ahren Hoffman, ASTRA
  • Christopher Byrne, Independent analyst and author, aka The Toy Guy®
  • Mary Couzin, Chicago Toy and Game Group
  • David Kleeman, Dubit
  • Dan Nessel, Dad Does.com
  • Robin Raskin, Living in Digital Times
  • Reyne Rice, International Toy Trade Magazine Association
  • Mark Schlichting, Noodleworks; creator of Broderbund's Living Books
  • Tonda Bunge Sellers, Living in Digital Times
  • Valerie Vacante, Collabsco

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