Our insights shows that, as pet ownership in the UK continues to decline, children are increasingly looking to the digital world to provide them with the opportunity to own a pet.
Urban dwelling is becoming more popular, house sizes are shrinking and renting is becoming more of a mainstay than home ownership. And all of these trends are having a knock on effect to the number of families now owning pets.
As “real life” pet ownership reduces, the desire for virtual pets is increasing.
Intelligent virtual pets with a personality, powered by artificial intelligence, are increasingly resonating with young kids and are plugging the pet ownership gap by providing children with emotional engagement.
Advancements in voice activation technology are bringing new innovation to this new world of digital ownership too.
According to our data, around 7% of young children report that voice activation is their preferred method to control their devices, and this is expected to increase exponentially over the next few years.
Some reports suggest that within the next 2 years, 50% of online searches will be done through voice activation, as children increasingly feel at ease with using their voice to control and interact with products in their ecosystem.
With recent changes in US legislation – enabling brands to build voice capability into children’s games and toys – we expect to see a significant increase in the number of smart toys, including pets, activated by voice commands.
Such toys already do exist in the market. Look at Hasbro’s robotic dog toy (Proto Max), which is part of the FurRealFriends line of animatronic pets that children can customize, enabling them to create “their ultimate pet and customise its personality” through coding on an app.
This innovation comes at the same time that Tamagotchi, the original and iconic 90s digital pet, is making a comeback with a mobile app complete with augmented reality features which bring the characters into the real-world.
The likes of Anki, a US based robotics company, are also part of a new wave of affordable toys that promise a level of ‘emotional engagement’, with toys such as Cosmo.
They may not be able to pat their new digital pets, but in time, they could be more common than you think…
To download a free copy of the Kids Insights Future Forecast report visit http://freereport.kidsinsights.co.uk/futureforecast/