Cybiko: Not just playing games
by Liane Gouthro
(IDG) -- Remember the days when a Tickle Me Elmo doll was the must-have toy? Not anymore. Toys are going high-tech.
Cybiko, a new handheld, wireless "inter-tainment" device for kids between the ages of 10 and 17, uses the Internet to offer a modern take on toys. The device offers instant messaging, interactive gaming, e-mail, and a personal information manager in one wireless, handheld toy.
"We want to take the really cool technology that is out there and bring it down to the level where kids want to use it," says Donald Wisniewski, Cybiko's president.
Cybiko will be available through the company's Web site by March 20 for $149, and will be available in retail stores by the beginning of April. Available in four translucent colors (yellow, blue, black, or clear), Cybiko looks like a high-tech walkie-talkie. It measures 4.8 inches by 2.8 inches, and weighs just 4 ounces. The device includes a full QWERTY keyboard, an LCD display, 500KB of memory, and a 900-MHz transmitter.
The device can be connected to a PC (a connection cord is included) to access downloaded files. Cybiko will store e-mail messages, graphics, and games (75 of which are currently available for free on the company's Web site.) Every day, Cybiko will offer an additional application or game for free on its site, says Wisniewski.
Kids can connect with other Cybiko users in their area to chat wirelessly or play interactive games. The devices work at a range up to 300 feet, and can create a daisy-chain effect for chatting with other users who are further away, says Wisniewski. That is, you could chat with another user who is 600 feet away if you were both chatting with a user who was between you. Users can chat with up to 99 other users at the same time. The device also offers a Vibration alert feature, which notifies you when another user is in your area. Users can search for other Cybiko users in one of three ways: Find a Friend, Scan a Scene, or Check out Someone New.
Cybiko's games are designed for both individual players and interactive battles, Wisniewski explains. That way, if there are no other players in your area, you can still enjoy Cybiko's games. You can also "teleport" your stored games and graphics to other users, using the device's transmitter.
Cybiko also offers many of the functions that are available in today's handheld computers and personal digital assistants. The personal planner has a to-do list manager, a calculator, and an alarm clock. Cybiko users can also read and compose e-mail messages, and send and receive messages when the device is hooked up to a PC.
The device holds approximately two to three games or applications, but its memory is expandable, according to Wisniewski. He notes that the batteries typically last 16 hours, but work best when they are recharged every night.
Cybiko plans to add more features to the devices this year, including the ability to play MP3 music files.
Tech toys for tots
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