WATCH: Could this toy be the new Tamagotchi?
There's a new toy on the market that uses AI and machine learning to help kids develop particular skills, while detecting their habits, behaviours, skills, likes and dislikes, to create a better user experience. Best of all though, it's screenless, and gives kids that "Tamagotchi feeling".
Storyball is a new toy that co-founder, Meir Biton, says "brings in a Tamagotchi feeling”. (Supplied)

Do you remember your first friend growing up? One you’d find yourself doing everything with? From playing and eating together to caring for them when they were down, as we grew, so did they. So when we eventually parted ways, our worlds shattered, our hearts broke – we would never be the same ever again.

Well, until we pressed A and C and restarted their life cycle.

I’m talking, of course, of the Tamagotchi – the handheld digital pet we carried around with us right through the ‘90s and early 2000s, only to toss it aside for artificial intelligence and LCD screens. There’s a new toy on the market though. And we heard it could be the new, modern-day Tamagotchi.

Did you have a Tamagotchi growing up? Do you have any memories of it you'd like to share with us? And do you think any toys of today can compare to it? Tell us by emailing and we may publish your comments.

Storyball is an interactive game ball for kids, and while it uses smart technology and AI to create a pleasant user experience, the device is actually screenless and encourages physical activity.

Storyball keeps kids moving around by having them complete activities and solving problems with quizzes, games and challenges, all facilitated by the Storyball app that’s constantly updating, which parents can also use to track their child’s progress. Storyball uses AI to adapt to the child’s habits, behaviours, skills, likes and dislikes, but what truly brings it to life are the faces of different characters which cover the ball.

UX creative and co-founder of Storyball, Meir Biton, explains, “The device itself has skins that cover on top, and these are faces – like a mask.” He explains you can therefore have anything from a unicorn to a Paw Patrol character as your Storyball friend. “And when you wear them on top of the device, it recognises the character and it comes to life.”

Biton compares Storyball to a Wii Controller and the game Pokemon Go as a “mixed reality experience”, and explains that the device actually started in physiotherapy. “It was about encouraging rehabilitation, bringing patients back into motion. It was a similar ball. They would squeeze it, kind of play around, measure their range, and we gamified that."

He continues, "At one point we shifted the audio to come out of the device itself. It kind of gave this device life. And we added a little face, just drew eyes on top of it, and suddenly it had a personality. And that was a great shift in the mindset. It became an interactive form – a new device.”

Biton says that, with the different skins, the device is for kids between the age of 4 and 10, however, the aim was to create something that kids can play with and grow to love so that they gradually grow together. “With the app we’re able to measure their progress and challenge them with more, new, games. Things that they like, things they can be better at,” he explains.

“There’s so much more to this, because IoT in general is just an open door for a lot of creativity.”

“It’s kind of a new way to play,” he says, and with the different dimensions that successfully combine development and growth, on a physical, mental and emotional level, he continues, “Storyball brings in a Tamagotchi feeling.”

Did you have a Tamagotchi growing up? Do you have any memories of it you'd like to share with us? And do you think any toys of today can compare to it? Tell us by emailing and we may publish your comments.

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