Consumer Products

Jazwares tests Alexa-connected play

New plush range Fuzzible Friends works with Amazon's Gadgets tech to create an interactive experience for kids that doesn't break the bank or privacy laws.
October 19, 2020

Florida-based toyco Jazwares is launching a new plush property that pairs with Alexa Gadgets technology to offer interactive stories and games called Fuzzible Friends.

Available for pre-order now and hitting shelves on November 1, the range is designed for ages three and up. Fuzzible Friends does not feature microphones or speakers—instead, the product pairs with a compatible Echo device through Bluetooth. Kids can then squeeze their creature’s left paw to watch its antenna light up and begin interacting through 40 sounds and 140 phrases.

“The idea was to create an inanimate object that interacts with Alexa in a way that brings the object to life and creates a very real character. We went through various incarnations, and the temptation is to take the technology as far as it can go,” says Jazwares EVP Jeremy Padawer. “But ultimately, the key is to keep it simple.”

All four Fuzzible Friends—Cubby the Fox, Fluff the Bunny, Sparkles the Unicorn (pictured) and Cuddles the Puppy—speak their own language. Alexa translates what they’re saying through the kid-directed Fuzzible skill, allowing children to interact with the creatures.

Kids don’t communicate directly with the Amazon Echo, however, and Jazwares says the Fuzzible Friends range is compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and does not collect children’s personal, identifiable information.

By letting Alexa do the heavy lifting in terms of interactivity, Padawer says the team was able to keep costs low during development and manufacturing. “This way, we can achieve a connection between kids and the toy beyond something much more complicated and expensive, all while making sure we hit that critical price point of US$20,” he explains.

Considering how isolated many kids have felt in recent months due to the pandemic and related lockdowns, Padawer says a connected plush item is the perfect fit. And while a comforting, interactive soft toy feels very “of the moment,” Jazwares is already looking forward to additional applications for the Alexa Gadgets technology in other categories.

“The opportunities to expand upon the technology are clear,” Padawer says. “And once you have proven out something in its simplest form, you become educated as a manufacturer about what works and what doesn’t. Now, the sky is the limit.”

About The Author
Elizabeth Foster is Kidscreen's Copy Chief & Special Reports Editor. Contact Elizabeth at efoster@brunico.com


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