ToyTalk pushes boundaries with conversational entertainment (too bad it’s just for kids)

ITM1

Imagine if Siri was actually fun to talk to: made you laugh (on purpose), spun amazing tales, had a quirky personality. That’s the feeling you get when you play around with ToyTalk’s new conversational kids entertainment sketches in their iPad app. I know the content isn’t geared toward me — the age target is 6 to 8 years — but I sure wish it was because they’re taking a conversation with an artificial character to a whole other level.

On Wednesday the two-year-old company, led by Pixar alum Oren Jacob, launched new content into their series The Winston Show, called “In the Movies.” The two new sketches give the kids interacting with the app a chance to be part of a space movie and a detective movie, and have free flowing playful conversations with the characters in the show, while also being entertained. Children who play it assume the part — using the video camera and the microphone — of the alien and the suspect themselves.

ToyTalkToyTalk launched the Winston Show just a couple months ago in September, and this is the most immersive content they’ve launched to date. ToyTalk CEO and co-founder Oren Jacob explained to me in an interview that the company has been using the audio feedback and viewing habits of its users to help shape the direction of new content. Many parents and kids have been consuming The Winston show in big chunks of time of the weekends or holidays — the average time in app is 30 minutes — and consumption patterns are more like watching TV than a traditional app.

To meet content demand, ToyTalk now has launched almost 12 hours of content of The Winston Show. They say it was #1 entertainment app for the iPad when it launched in September, and over 2 million things have now been said by kids to the series.

ITM3ToyTalk is solidly focused on kids entertainment right now, partly because Jacob says that was the first type of user that he thought would be so open to conversational entertainment. That’s clear when you play with “In the Movies” and the characters ask you to recreate the noise of alien invaders or the noise you made when you were sick.

But that doesn’t mean the same technology couldn’t be applied to many more types of entertainment and content whether its family-friendly or not. ToyTalk says they’ve had interest from a lot of content and entertainment companies who want to explore using their “PullString technology,” which is software that enables a creator to make two-way conversational content.

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