Insights · July 24th, 2013

istock_000003138127smallKids.  Those extremely wise little Buddhas covered in hair. You may think they can’t grasp basic concepts, but these crafty little beings have somehow convinced us to give them everything they want in the future.

A lot of you have kids now. Even more of you will have them later. And then you’ll have grandkids. And great-grandkids. And with the rate of longevity around here lately, you’ll probably even have great-great-grandkids.  What do all of these kids have in common? They like to play. Oftentimes with toys. The question of the hour is, what will toys of the future look like? Don’t care? You should.  Even if you don’t have kids, at some point during your lifetime you’re probably going to get coerced into buying a toy for a friend’s kid, due to the Law of Social Niceties, so don’t think you can get out of this blog without even giving it a cursory glance.

Kids Will Get Whatever They Want

Word on the street is that the Millennial generation is just a bunch of entitled, self-involved brats (rude). Well, what would you say if these entitled little brats had offspring that could have or be whatever they wanted? That’s what the future of toys has in store for us. With the terrifyingly wide spectrum of 3D-printed toys available, printing whatever their little hearts desire will be a snap. WARNING: For those of you crossing your fingers that your kid is just a little less advanced than all the rest, making it impossible for him to invent his own printable code – get ready to be disappointed. Even if your kid is the slowest kid on the block, a lot of code is already open-sourced, and 8-year-olds are already learning how to code, so they’re going to figure it out somehow.   Plus, we don’t even have to own a 3D printer to design and purchase toys.   The Dreambox is a 3D printing vending machine that allows you to upload your custom design and print with a simple click.

And whatever you don’t print yourself, you’ll buy. Interactive tabletops are fun and multi-functional. One day we might even integrate flexible touch surfaces and interactive holograms to separate these tabletops from giant cellphones, which is what they are now. Toys that are programmable and electrically charged, like robotic blocks, will encourage invention, and things like hover boards, transformer toys, and energy conscious night-lights might also make inspiring toys.

Oh! And don’t forget tech-savvy toddlers will probably need video cameras for their v-blogs, and holographic chess sets to feed their spongy little intellect. I could see things that grow and then dissipate being popular toys as well. Almost like self-destructing Tamagotchis. Physically self-destructing, that is, since Tamagotchis already commit digital suicide when you neglect them. Come to think of it, all digital toys that disappear at some point would be popular for parents, too, as they wouldn’t leave messes behind.

Kids Will Be Whatever They Want

One of the most popular digital toys to come will be virtual reality games. These let kids transform into whatever they want to be, whether it’s a  zombie fighter, or an explorer, or a fantasy character. A lot of ideas for immersive VR games for kids are still in their infancy, but the opportunity to control environments and avatars is already an  exciting prospect for kids testing devices today.

Yes, it’s safe to say future toys will be interactive, customizable, and creative. So, will serving kids a heaping pile of virtual reality diminish their capability to be imaginative on their own? Will kids be able to see a ball of yarn strung up around the house as highly volatile laser beams, A.K.A Tons of Fun? Maybe they won’t. Maybe a pipe cleaner bent into funny shapes just won’t do the trick anymore.  But maybe toys in the future will increase creativity and enhance imagination by opening young minds to a world in which all things are possible.

Writer: Mallory Smith worked as Program Manager & Administrator at Futurist.com

Category
Art & Society Science & Tech
NikolasBadminton_ChiefFuturist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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