Kurio's Smartwatch For Kids Uses Mom's Phone

Staff Writer
Updated

NEW YORK — At Toy Fair 2016, Kurio unveiled a Bluetooth smartwatch for kids that encourages children to move, while giving them a bundle of games and a direct line of communication with Mom and Dad's smartwatches. The Kurio Watch ($60, available this fall) is for kids ages 6 to 12, and can communicate with any other Android device.

The Kurio Watch talks to Mom & Dad's Smartwatches. Image: Henry T. CaseyThe Kurio Watch talks to Mom & Dad's Smartwatches. Image: Henry T. Casey

Available in pink and baby blue, the watch will come with a variety of faces, including designs featuring Transformers, Pokemon, My Little Pony and The Littlest Pet Shop. The Kurio Watch communicates with other devices via Bluetooth through the Kurio Messenger app (free via the Google Play Store). Parents then manage the child's contacts through the app on their own device.

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The Messaging app allows kids to communicate with emoji, text messages and drawings, as well as photos and voice recordings. The watch features a built-in microphone and camera. The pre-production Kurio Watches we saw were not functional, but the company displayed watch faces and photos taken by the wearable on a Samsung Gear 2. The photos looked like what we'd expect from the wearable's 1-inch square display, showing a bit of noise.

If parents want to put their kids on the line, they can turn their child's watch into a hands-free Bluetooth headset. Parents can also set up five phone numbers that their kids can call through their Kurio Watch, which would then place the call through their parent's device. There's also a handful of In Case of Emergency features, so kids can have their allergies, blood type and emergency contact information listed in their Kurio Watch. 

The Kurio Watch as seen from below. Image: Henry T. CaseyThe Kurio Watch as seen from below. Image: Henry T. Casey

When I asked a Kurio representative about the risks inherent in collecting this amount of personal data, I was told this information is safe as it is only stored locally and not in the cloud. Kurio reps told me the company was also recently queried by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), and that the company's answers on the topic of security were sufficient to Sen. Nelson.

Like all Android Wear devices, the Kurio Watch comes with standard apps such as calculator, calendar and a sedentary reminder. The watch knows when you've been lazy thanks to its accelerometer, and Kurio plans to load the device with 10 mini-game style apps that encourage activity. One app would promote cardio exercise while another one could monitor a child's activity while he or she plays on a scooter, recording speeds reached and the duration of activity. A representative from Kurio also suggested that the app would be able to record video while the child is on the scooter, as if the watch were a mini, low-res GoPro.

One of the watch faces that will be available on the Kurio Watch. Image: Henry T. CaseyOne of the watch faces that will be available on the Kurio Watch. Image: Henry T. Casey

The watch may have other mini games that take advantage of the accelerometer, such as a version of Centipede where you move your insect around by tilting your wrist. Another game would have kids tilting and turning their wrists to move a small ball around a maze on screen, similar to classic plastic disc toys.

The Kurio Watch has a power/wake button, 128MB of internal memory and a microSD memory slot that can support cards with up to 64GB of memory. The wearable charges via micro USB 2.0, and a full charge should last 2 days.