Not every toy can meet the unique needs of autistic and other special needs children.
Leka is a ball-like, robotic smart toy with a display that has been designed for kids with developmental challenges. The customizable toy is equipped with sensors that enable users to play fun and educational games that motivate social interactions, increase motor, cognitive, and emotional skills, and also stimulate autonomy. Leka can detect and respond to a child’s interaction through autonomous behavior.
For example, if Leka is mistreated and thrown on the ground, it appears to become sad and turns red. An interactive response like this aims to help users better understand social cues and improve their social skills.
Leka is primarily controlled over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi via Android or Apple smartphones and tablets, or by computer. Multiple applications will be available on the device when it ships in May 2017 at about $690. Indiegogo backers have been able to order one for a pledge starting at $290 for early birds. Its makers are out to raise $60,000 by June 2.
Leka holds appeal for the parents of autistic children. But this is a product that at least some of them may be hesitant to buy before trying it out first to see if their kids can indeed benefit from it.