High Tech Features Energize Resurging Toy Industry in 2006

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Sensory Speech IC Contributes to Convergence Between Toys and Consumer Electronics.

Santa has created his list and is checking it twice, but not for the traditional reasons this Christmas. There are new categories of good and bad recipients this year, called "tech toddlers" or "kidults," that are hoping not for toys, but for high tech goodies under the tree. This phenomenon is fueled by "age compression," where kids are familiar with video games, cell phones and portable music players by age 7 -- about six months earlier than just a year ago, according to a recent online survey of 3,540 parents. No wonder Santa is scratching his head.

Toy manufacturers are increasingly taking advantage of this paradigm shift as a way to turn around sales that have slumped over the past 5 years. "The whole world of toys has changed. When we think of toys, we think of the old building blocks, but in today's world with technology [and] computers, the hot toys are the electronic ones," said Jim Silver, editor in chief of Toy Wishes Magazine, an influential industry publication.

According to Anita Frazier, an industry analyst for The NPD Group, "The toy industry, which at $22 billion is twice as large as the closely related video games industry, continues to do a remarkable job in responding to the changing tastes and preferences of today's kids as evidenced by the number of new, innovative products we will see at retail this holiday. The latest indices give us reason to believe that the softness we've seen in recent years may level off or even improve in the next few years."

At the American International Toy Fair in New York earlier this year, over 75% of the toys introduced had microprocessors in them. Providing some of the sophistication in these new toys is a chip from Sensory, Inc. the world's leading provider of embedded speech technologies. Sensory has found a niche by providing a line of low-cost integrated circuits that works well in both toys and consumer electronics devices. Called the RSC-4x family, they provide speech recognition, speech and music synthesis as well as general command and control in a single IC. These chips are enabling a new generation of products to talk and hear, and are now commonly found in interactive products like high-tech toys, remote controls, clocks, lights, and anything else that can benefit from voice command and control. The technologies allow products to be voice driven right out of the box, and some offer customized speech options, so that products can be trained to recognize one voice as well as implement voice password security.

Award Winning Toys Feature Sensory Speech Chips

Toys based on Sensory chips are winning awards for their innovation and range of features. One of the most popular and lovable toys is Lucky the Wonder Pup™ from Zizzle, an interactive "labradoodle" that performs 15 different commands and works without training-no obedience school required! Lucky's "brain" is an RSC-4128 that controls all of his recognition and motor skills and is a Platinum Toy Winner from the prestigious Oppenheim Toy Portfolio for 2007. Visit http://www.zizzle.com/V10/products/product-lucky.html for more information.

MGA Entertainment has a hit on their hands with the Toy Wishes HOT DOZEN Bratz: Forever Diamondz Dolls. Sensory's RSC-464 is integrated into the Bratz: Diamondz Forever Secret Voice Jewelry Box accessory, which features a hidden compartment that can only be accessed by the owner's programmed voice password. The RSC-464 also powers a Bratz Talking Alarm clock, which will let you snooze if you tell it to in true Bratz style.

MGA also offers Study Buddy Koby, a plush toy bear that listens and interacts with children due to its RSC-4128 "brain" which makes learning fun. By telling stories, jokes and riddles as well as by playing games, Koby provides an educational as well as entertaining experience.

One of the most unique dolls available this season is also from MGA and is called Love and Grow Suzie™. She starts out as a baby and then grows into a toddler over time and responds appropriately based on her age thanks to an RSC-4128 chip from Sensory. More information on MGA products is available at http://www.mgae.com.

Also winning accolades is Amazing Allysen, the older (and more grown-up) sister of last year's Amazing Amanda from Playmates. Allysen has already been chosen as one of a select group of toys for the Toys "R" Us' Hot Holiday Toys List for 2006, as a Toy Wishes Holiday 2006 All Star, and has been featured in Time and in a story by the Associated Press. Allysen's intelligence is powered by Sensory's RSC-4128, and she is programmed to learn a child's preferences: favorite hobbies, colors, best school friends and work them into a conversation over smoothies. Read about Allysen at http://www.playmatestoys.com/html/amazing_allysen/.

Radica Games has created a new concept in interactive TV play with Jibbi, a device which when plugged into a television set brings an animated character to life that responds to 75 different voice commands. Radica is also offering their Password Journal 4, a consistent best seller for young girls year after year. Information on Radica products is found on the web at http://www.radicagames.com.

By embracing technology, adding interactivity, creating whole new categories of educational toys and expanding the use of sophisticated electronics in products, the toy industry is poised for a significant turnaround and future growth. "This is turning out to be a strong toy season, and that is the result of a lot of great, innovative products out there," says Kathleen Waugh, a Toys 'R' Us spokeswoman.

Consumer Devices Featuring Sensory Speech ICs

With the blurring of the line between toys and consumer devices, many of the features that make these toys compelling are also being built into common everyday household items. In addition to gadget lovers, people with disabilities such as arthritis or vision problems benefit from the use of speech technologies in interactive applications.

Recently released and featured on the QVC network, the Innotech Surfboard remote control has preset voice commands for power, channel surfing and volume control, and also allows for further customization. Read more at http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/app.detail.

For general purpose electrical control, VOS offers the IntelaVoice voice activated switch. Now instead of "Clap On--Clap Off", a person can control lights (even with dimmers!) and small appliances using voice commands. VOS is at http://www.vos.com.

One of the better known uses for speech recognition is in telephony, and Sensory chips are used for hands-free operation in answering machines as well as in voice-dialers from Vocally. Read more at http://www.dynamic-living.com/voice_activated.htm.

High technology is enhancing the way we interact with consumer electronics from toys to telephones, and everyone from children to senior citizens is benefiting from these new interactive features. Chances are if it can speak or recognize speech, it is powered by a Sensory chip.

About Sensory, Inc.

Sensory, Inc., (http://www.sensoryinc.com) based in Sunnyvale, CA, is the world leader in embedded speech technologies. Sensory is a profitable private company offering a complete line of IC and software-only solutions for speech recognition, speech synthesis, speaker verification, music synthesis and more. The company's products are widely deployed in consumer electronics applications including telephones, home automation, toys, remote controls, automotive, security and learning aids. Sensory's customers represent the leaders in consumer electronics, including such companies as Hasbro, JVC, Kenwood, Mattel, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Uniden and Sony. Additional Sensory offices are located in Portland, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Vienna.

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TOM TOLBERT
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