Hong Kong Toy Fair: Annual Event Showcases High-Tech Gadgets

The Toys and Games Fair, the second-largest event of its kind, recently took place in Hong Kong. Although technology ruled the roost, old-school toys were still on-display.

Over 1,960 exhibitors from 39 regions and countries featured everything from virtual rabbits to wooden blocks to apps for smartphones and tablets. Since parents are giving their children gadgets and mobile devices more than ever before, a lot of toy makers these days have shifted their focus from the physical to the virtual.

With so many kids playing games on these devices, companies are focusing on apps that take the experience to the next level. APPS1010 CEO Wilson Chiu told the folks at CRI that his business is presently looking for ways to create software that allows them to interact a bit more with their parents.

"They don't want to give up. They are playing the game, the online game, or some electronic books but I can't see any interactive with the parents," Chiu said.

He added, "I want to create some object, which is a 3D object, together with the device, which can let the parents to share their time and their knowledge with the kid and interact together, to play together."

One app allows kids to capture an image of their toys on their tablets. Once the image is completely processed by the software, the 2D image becomes a 3D cartoon that can interact with users in a storybook-style setting. If you want your favorite teddy bear to tell you a story, just snap a picture and wait for the fun to start.

Another app would allow kids to interact with a virtual rabbit, which is essentially a stuffed animal with a digital face. In order to get the full experience, children download an app to their iPad that allows them fully communicate with the furry critter.

Companies also showcased so-called "therapy toys" which are specifically designed to help children and the elderly with things like coordination. JapanCorp reports that one section was entirely devoted to items for adults. Included among the "sophisticated" toys were "hobby goods, magic items, model vehicles, mechanical toys, and collectible action figures."

The fair, which wrapped everything up on Thursday (January 9), also featured traditional toys such as action figures and wooden blocks. Hong Kong has hosted the annual event for the past four decades, though the industry has suffered a bit in recent years. However, fair organizers believe things are slowly starting to turn around.

"Hong Kong is the world's toy town. The designs, engineering, support services and also sales and marketing platforms, these are all in Hong Kong, so buyers are coming here to shop," Hong Kong Trade Development Council Toys Advisory Committee's C.K. Yeung said.

Although the Hong Kong toy industry has struggled to maintain its status following a series of safety concerns and scandals, toy makers are hoping to reconnect with buyers around the world with a new wave of technology-driven playthings.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]