This Week’s Must-Haves: a Smart Little Droid You Can Guide With Your Voice or Phone

This week, Adweek is highlighting a WiFi-connected Barbie, video-streaming drone, pet fitness tracker and more. Take a look! 


Star Wars BB-8 by Sphero, $149

Sorry R2-D2, but Star Wars fans have a new favorite droid: the uber-adorable (for a piece of metal, anyway) BB-8. While Episode VII doesn't hit theaters until Dec. 18, you can already bring home your own pint-size version of BB-8 thanks to connected toy company Sphero. The app-enabled drone can be guided manually via your smartphone or set to automatic patrol mode, and features a holographic projector that shows messages from R2-D2 and C-3PO. Like its movie counterpart, BB-8 even has a personality—or, at least, adaptive expressions and sounds that change based on your interactions and voice commands.

Buy it:


Hello Barbie, $74

One of this year's hottest holiday toy launches is also the most controversial: Hello Barbie, the WiFi-connected doll that uses speech recognition to have "conversations" with its owner. Potential privacy issues aside (according to Mattel, information shared with Barbie will remain completely secure and can be accessed—and deleted—by parents), the artificially intelligent doll is pretty impressive, boasting over 8,000 prerecorded lines and the ability to remember everything from your favorite subject to the latest Taylor Swift song.

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Sky Viper Video-Streaming Drone, $89

According to toy retailers, drones are expected to top many a holiday wish list this year. One of the coolest kid-friendly options is the Sky Viper drone, which streams live video and 360-degree panoramas directly to a connected smartphone. Adjustable controller sensitivity makes the quadcopter easy to fly, and it's built to withstand high levels of impact.

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View-Master VR, $29

For its first major update in more than 75 years, View-Master has partnered with Google Cardboard to create an accessible (and affordable) VR experience. Instead of placing a slide in the plastic headset, you now insert a smartphone into the viewer. Using one of the View-Master Experience Pack apps, kids can find themselves anywhere from outer space to the Amazon rainforest.

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Gemio, $69 to $99

Remember those friendship bracelets you used to make at summer camp? Like pretty much everything else, they've now gotten the smart treatment. Gemio's high-tech friendship bracelets for kids can be programmed to display different "light tones" when friends are nearby or trying to reach out, or for certain gestures, like a secret handshake. The bracelets are also super-customizable: Swap out the detachable gems or use the MyGemio design app to change their colors and patterns.

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WonderWoof BowTie, $95

Looking for a gift for your fur-covered children? The WonderWoof BowTie is a stylish pet fitness tracker that lets you know whether your dog is getting enough exercise. Just attach WonderWoof to your pup's collar, connect it to the WonderWoof app to determine a daily activity goal based on size, breed and age, then track its progress throughout the day. The app also features shareable walk maps and reminders for vet check-ups and grooming appointments.

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This story first appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.