Canadian musician Grimes, in collaboration with toy company Curio and OpenAI, has introduced a groundbreaking line of interactive AI plush toys for children. The trio of plush figurines, named Gabbo, Grem, and Grok, are designed to converse with children, adapting and learning their personalities. This venture signifies a fusion of technology and play, aiming to revolutionize the way children engage with toys.
Voiced by Grimes herself, the characters—Gabbo, Grem, and Grok—are not only entertaining but also represent a melding of technology and creativity. Despite the namesake similarity with Elon Musk’s AI chatbot Grok, the toy Grok draws inspiration from “Grocket,” symbolizing Grimes’ children growing up amid SpaceX rockets.
Curio co-founder Misha Sallee elaborates on the characters, stating that Grok is a friendly rocket with a penchant for dancing, Grem is a pink-obsessed space alien, and Gabbo is a curious, Pinocchio-like figure always on the lookout for new friends. Sallee emphasizes the goal of infusing fun and lovable personalities into each character, crafted atop the OpenAI language model.
Presently, the AI toys operate in a “sweet, friendly, jokester” mode, deemed child-appropriate. However, Curio is actively developing a beta functionality that allows parents to customize preferences. The collaboration between Grimes and Curio was sparked by a post on X, where Grimes expressed enthusiasm about the idea of intelligent teddy bears influencing children positively.
In a conversation on Curio’s blog, Grimes, along with X user Roon and Curio’s Sallee, discuss the potential of AI toys to shape human behavior and mitigate screen time dependence. Grimes expresses the sentiment that reducing screen time can enhance cognitive function, emphasizing a departure from constant dopamine hits associated with prolonged screen use.
The AI toys currently require a Wi-Fi connection, with future aspirations to integrate all hardware and software into the toys themselves. An accompanying app provides parents with written transcripts of their child’s interactions with the toys, addressing privacy concerns by ensuring compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The transcripts are set to be deleted after 90 days.
Available for preorder at $99 each on the Curio website, the AI plush toys come with an added incentive for early orders—those placed by December 17th will receive a golden ticket by Christmas, offering a glimpse into the innovation that awaits. The initial shipments are anticipated in early 2024, marking a significant stride in the fusion of AI technology and children’s play.