Collabsco’s Valerie Vacante on the major players of the Connected Play Landscape

Valerie Vacante
This April, in partnership with London Games Festival, Mojo Nation hosted the first annual Play Innovation Summit, bringing together the product designers and innovators shaping the future of the toys and games through emerging technologies.

Valerie Vacante, founder of Collabsco, presented her talk – Connected Cool Kids – New Experiences for a New Generation – where she shared her perspective on creating connected experiences with (and for) kids, emerging tech trends across toys and gaming, as well as highlighting companies that are leading the way in creating new ways for a new generation to play, learn and explore the world.

Vacante shared her first version of the connected play landscape at the Play Innovation Summit and as a follow up to the presentation and to mark the official launch of her Connected Play Landscape (pictured below), we sat down with Vacante to learn more about it.

How do you define connected play?
There are several definitions bouncing around about connected play. Some think it is all toys connected with Bluetooth, however we see it in a more expansive way, indicative to how people live and experience technology. We define a “Connected Play” experience as one that allows people to interact, play or learn in the physical and digital world.

Connected Play goes beyond toys or a single technology; it encompasses gaming, education and emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), robots, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Wearables, Social, Voice Assistants and more.

Juniper Research defines it as “one that must have embedded communications onboard that enables it to interface with a mobile device or games console, while internet connectivity may be used for the purposes of communications to the cloud.”

As new technologies have evolved, so have the ways kids, play, learn and explore their physical and digital world. The Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robots, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), EdTech, Makers Tech, Wearables, Social, Near Field Communication (NFC), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Voice Assistants are all technologies and ways that have impacted and improved connected play.

Why was the Connected Play Landscape created?
The connected play industry is complex and ever evolving. I have been fortunate to connect and collaborate with a number of connected play companies – when working on a number of projects, I needed to continuously reference multiple sources and views of emerging technologies, toys and games.

When Mojo Nation invited me to speak at the Play Innovation Summit, I knew that would be the ideal place to share preliminary thinking around the Connected Play Landscape and gain feedback to further build upon. I called it a rough V1 when I presented it and continued to build out the landscape to now featuring over 100 companies and connected play experiences.

Today, we are officially launching the Connected Play Landscape, a single view of emerging technologies and companies creating the future of play.

Our goal is to provide a useful, single view of the companies and technologies impacting how kids play, learn and explore the physical and digital world.  We wanted to provide a consolidated view of the Connected Play Landscape to create an awareness of the companies and collaborators breaking barriers through the power of technology and connected play.

Your insights refer to the “Connected Cool Kids”. Who are they?
The “Connected Cool kids” refer to not only the kids of today who embrace technology, emerging tech and play in new ways but also the companies and innovators creating connected play experiences, challenging how kids play, learn and explore the world around them.

To find out more about Collabsco’s Connected Play Landscape, email Valerie at [email protected] or go to LinkedIn ​and Twitter.

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