The First Toy With Watson AI is Cool and Creepy

As kids, we all had that one toy we loved so much we considered it a best friend. In the case of the CogniToys Dino, that one toy will actually be able to listen and talk with you.

The Dino is a small plastic dinosaur that runs on AA batteries, but the real magic is that its brain is powered by none other than IBM's Watson, the Jeopardy-winning computer with extensive natural language skills. Dino is available from Amazon for $110 (on sale from $120).

Since Watson doesn't exactly radiate cuddliness, the toy features some child-friendly customization. It scolds curse words, refuses to answer naughty queries.

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Digital Trends got its hands on Dino, which its reviewer (and his son) found to be adorable and fun. They also didn't mind the educational aspect, such as when it defines words or teaches kids how to spell. Like other AI, such as Siri and Alexa, Dino also has a tendency to not always understand the user.

But the largest issue may be CogniToys' privacy policy, which could give some parents pause: "We collect information that personally identifies you and your child, such as your full name, address, mobile phone number, e-mail, payment information, child’s name, child’s date of birth, child’s gender, and other personally identifiable information, that you choose to provide us with or that you choose to include in your account[.]"

That's a lot of info to give up, especially about a child. CogniToys claims that this information is only to improve the toy and its website and to send alerts about accounts. Still, other toy makers have run into problems with privacy and cloud-connected toys.

CogniToys Dino got its start on Kickstarter, where it earned $275,000 from 2,256 backers. Preorders are scheduled to be fulfilled in November.

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is an editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.