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Children's Books & Toys Go Digital

Techstination feature for Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Children's books, games and even teddy bears….go digital. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. The world's biggest toymaker, Mattel, is among the companies focused on creating new toys with electronics…and bringing old ones into the digital age. Among the new products is the Read With Me DVD system. It takes popular children's books…puts them on DVD….and with a special remote control that works with any DVD player…lets kids play with the stories…(sound). And those stuffed Winnie the Pooh and Elmo characters…look pretty ordinary…but general manager Kevin Curran says flash memory chips and USB ports…let parents download software…so they know a child's name…

"You also can put in there a siblings name, a grandma's name, their favorite foods, their favorites drinks, their favorite colors, their favorite animals. And you know, it even has a clock and a calendar inside…so it knows what time of day it is. In fact it knows, when it's time for a bath."

The Knows Your Name Elmo or Pooh will arrive this fall for about 40 dollars. And for slightly older kids…say 8…Mattel will be selling a cell phone. A real one. Dan Frechtling is director of marketing for games and electronics…

"Girls have told us, by far their most requested item, their most requested youth electronics item, are cell phones. And you can imagine why. Girls want to aspire to be like older girls."

The My Scene phones will operate on pre-paid plans. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.