Kid-safe tablets making their mark

2014-01-08 09:50
Sony has announced the launch of the Xperia Tablet S. (Sony, file)

Sony has announced the launch of the Xperia Tablet S. (Sony, file)

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Las Vegas - Kid-safe tablets and smartphones are hitting the market, giving parents more control over how the mobile devices are used.

Hollywood studio DreamWorks has joined the move, introducing its DreamTab at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in partnership with California-based manufacturer Fuhu.

The new device will be up against competition - including from French-based Kurio, which has its own tablets on display at the huge Las Vegas show, and is also introducing a kid-safe smartphone.

Fuhu already makes a tablet designed for kids called Nabi, but will expand its footprint with DreamWorks, teaming up with the animators behind films like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon.

The tablet will include programs to teach kids how to draw their favourite characters.

It will comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa), a US law that limits how much data can be collected from young children.

Smartphone

DreamTab will be sold later this year in 20cm and 30cm versions, running the Android operating system with Fuhu's modifications.

Tablet owners will have a kid-friendly App Zone that allows parents and children to buy apps, games, music, movies, videos, e-books and other goods.

"Fuhu grabbed our attention when they came on the market because they single-handedly made a quantum leap forward in revolutionising the kids' tech space," said DreamWorks Animation's Jim Mainard.

"The DreamTab posed a compelling challenge not only to our filmmakers and artists to create content for this new medium, but also for our engineers and innovators who worked hand-in-hand with the Fuhu team to develop the consumer-facing side of this groundbreaking technology."

Like the DreamTab, Kurio's 18cm and 25cm tablets allow for parental filtering, and parents can set preset limits for the device or various applications.

"You can choose any of the apps and restrict them," said Kurio spokesperson Eric Levin. "So you can decide your child can't use Facebook after 9 pm [21:00]."

Kurio is also launching a smartphone based on the same technology, which will include "geo-fencing" to allow parents to know when the child leaves a designated area.

"You have younger and younger kids getting smartphones, and this allows parents to have some control," Levin said.

The phone is being sold unlocked in the US market, for $100.

The Consumer Electronics Association, which runs CES, said this week that smartphones are expected to maintain their position as the sales leader of the industry in 2014, with US unit shipments projected to reach 152 million this year while sales of tablets are due to hit 89.3 million units.

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