Welcome, Leka! A Smart Toy for Exceptional Children
Years ago parents of children with special needs were crying out to the toy manufacturers to make products that would benefit their children. More than one-fifth of US households with children have at least one child with special needs. Several national organizations and popular blogs are getting the word out about effective diagnosis, treatment and recommended techniques and products to build delayed skills. People are getting it–this is a population that wants, needs and deserves to be taught with the best, most innovative and most importantly, FUN toys to advance their development. Parents of children with special needs want their kids to enjoy the same play experience as their peers and siblings. Their child’s days are often filled with hours of specialized therapy that can and should be augmented with great play using mainstream toys.
While many companies heard the special education community’s need, parents within the community took matters upon themselves! Introducing Leka: “An Exceptional Toy for Exceptional Children.” Leka is an interactive and multi-sensory smart toy that offers children with special needs the ability to play fun and educational games that motivate social interaction, that increase motor, cognitive and emotional skills as well as stimulates autonomy.
Leka was reportedly developed hand-in-hand with parents, therapists, and caregivers. Leka is a robotic toy, equipped with sensor, so it can detect and respond to a child’s interaction through autonomous behaviors. Leka plays music and sounds, shows emotions and pictures, moves, vibrates, lights up and even speaks to children. Leka is beneficial in different environments; at home fostering family interaction and stimulating the child’s autonomy. For example, it will guide and motivate the child throughout the day to complete different daily tasks through pictograms displayed on its screen and vocal instructions. It is also helpful for parents and caregiver and therapists to teach motor cognitive and emotional skills through play.
The cool thing is that Leka records data of all its interaction with a child. The hope of the development team is to link that raw data with other data to hopefully be able to follow the child’s progress over time as well as to provide a lot of data for understanding neurodevelopmental disorders. The research and development for Leka started in 2013 and shipping will begin in the second quarter of 2017.