About half of the highest-paying American jobs now require some coding knowledge. But our tech skills are lacking: 15-year-olds in the United States ranked 38th out of 71 countries in terms of math skills, according to the Program for International Student Assessment. Now toy companies are lining up to offer kids fun ways to learn those valuable skills. With kids graduating from dolls and trucks at an earlier age, and demand for coding and other tech-savvy skills starting younger than ever, we're seeing an explosion of high-tech toys, and parents and even schools are buying.
The global market for child development toys is projected to reach nearly $40 billion by 2019, with 76 percent of that related to STEM — science, technology, engineering and math —according to Euromonitor. While toy giants Lego and Fisher Price offer coding-related toys, a number of start-ups are focused just on this new category of smart toys, particularly for kids between the ages of 6 and 12. And while there is a nearly infinite variety of mobile games that are designed to be educational, this latest group of start-ups aims to break tech education free from the tablet and into the real world.
Osmo connect iPads with tangible objects, like pen and paper or blocks. It's raised nearly $40 million from investors, including Mattel and Sesame Street. The key Osmo device — which effectively acts as a camera, bringing objects into the digital world on the iPad, costs just $19, while the kits that include games range from $99 to $189. But Osmo's CEO, Pramod Sharma, says parents are willing to invest in their technology.