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[Comments] (5) Phone Toy: I was talking to my niece on the phone (she's at the "ba ba ba" stage) and I was reminded of the time she called Sumana by accident and Sumana brought her tech-support phone skills to bear. Kids love to play with phones. Up to a certain point they like to play with the buttons and then they become interested in the conversational aspect. I started thinking about a self-contained phonelike toy that would follow the child through these stages of development.

The toy has a video screen and four big buttons underneath, each a different color and with a different shape embossed on it. There's also a speaker and a microphone. At first the toy is like a Simon Says game; you push the buttons and you get patterns of sound and light. Over time the available patterns get more complex. I don't know how babies feel about having their own voices recorded and played back, but you could do something with that.

Then the four big buttons gradually become associated with fictional characters who show up on the screen when you activate them. They'll talk or read to you. They'll respond to your mood and when you start learning words, they'll do some simple voice recognition. Then it turns into The Diamond Age, I guess.


Posted by Zack at Tue Apr 15 2008 22:29

This sounds very much like the child-teaching mode of the portable
computer in A Fire Upon the Deep.

Posted by Susie at Tue Apr 15 2008 22:49

That sounds like a good idea. I know little kids love to hear their voices recorded. We did that in Romania.

Posted by Leonard at Wed Apr 16 2008 07:42

Huh, I don't remember that mode or that computer. Was it the kids on the planet who had that?

Posted by Stuart at Wed Apr 16 2008 10:14

Then you could invent a version for socially-maladjusted adults like me.

Posted by Zack at Wed Apr 16 2008 11:22

Yes, it was the kids on the planet who had that. The Woodcarver learned their language from it, if I remember correctly.

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