The future of play

Mark Palatucci, CPO and co-founder at Anki, explains why the industry needs to be embracing the world of entertainment robots and AI.
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Throughout the years, technology has changed how children interact and play with one another.

Video games have spawned a new generation that live and play in virtual worlds. But we have lost sense of the physical world, the satisfaction of touch, and even though video games provide immersive, virtual environments, one could argue that our children may have also lost a bit of creativity and imagination in their day-to-day play.

If you were to walk down the toy aisle at your local retailer, you will see the same products that offer the same type of play that have existed for decades.

Even though toys have been stagnant in innovation, you cannot deny that it is still a massive £54 billion a year global industry.

Technology can truly push the toy industry forward. It can provide richer entertainment experiences for our children, but also spark their imagination and create a social atmosphere within the home.

To bring robotics and artificial intelligence – in their truest and best forms – into the living room, we had to solve some exceptionally difficult problems, and at a price point and reliability necessary for a consumer product like our robotic battle-racing game, Anki Overdrive.

We would never have been able to deliver something like this five years ago. Today, companies are able to take advantage of a unique ecosystem of components that are more capable and affordable than ever before, and benefit from the prevalence of powerful mobile devices.

One of the things that most motivates and inspires us at Anki is knowing just how transformative the right applications of robotics and artificial intelligence can be. These technologies transcend product categories and bring a previously unattainable level of intelligence and purpose to the physical world.

It is exactly why the toy industry should welcome technology with open arms. Companies can no longer depend on a popular brand name to make them successful. They need to embrace robotics and AI to create unique play experiences in the physical world that allows toys to be more aware, interactive and fun.

The toy industry cannot afford to take a back seat while videogames continue to propel forward in technological advances as evident with the recent rise and interest in virtual reality.

For us, Anki Overdrive represents more than an entertainment product. This is our opportunity to make robotics and AI more accessible to the masses and demonstrate how transformative these technologies can be to categories that have yet to be touched by them.


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Future Gazing: The rise of tech toys

By 2021, the VR market is forecast to grow by 800 per cent, while as of 2016, the toys-to-life market hit €4.98bn and is tipped to double in the next three years. This year, Anki’s Cozmo is billed to be among the most sought after toys for Christmas. Jade Burke explores the growing tech toy space.

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