Join IEEE Spectrum editors on 27 Oct. at 1pm ET for a conversation on social audio app Clubhouse.

Close bar

Gamer Kids

A new survey reveals the size of the gamer generation.

1 min read

According to a new study by the NPD Group, a technology research firm, 55.7 million kids in the U.S. age 2 to 17 play videogames - or roughly 82% of children.  I suppose that's not entirely surprising on the surface.  But, hang on - 2-year-olds?   

What are they playing?   

Many are watching older brothers/sisters play Webkinz, the virtual world that kids enter after buying accompanying "plush" toys.  Webkinz is the gateway for virtual worlds to come, and its' reach is astonishing.  I interviewed  the elusive CEO, Howard Ganz, and here's what he had to say - food for though on kids and digital living:

"Generally, we anticipate upcoming challenges by looking forward: we try to imagine what our world will look like 3-5 years out," Ganz said,

"For example, our first successful transition saw us grow from supplying the amusement industry to participating in the larger toy industry. Next, when we saw that many of our bigger customers were going directly to the Orient to purchase, we explored new avenues of growth. This led to our expansion into the giftware industry, where we could develop a broad assortment of product lines which are sold to a wide base of customers. As one category wanes, another becomes ‘hot’, and we can react more quickly to both scenario."

"...We don’t think of our Webkinz pets as a replacement to traditional plush—we still design and create many lines of plush toys—but instead as a new category. It’s not a field for everyone. It requires a big commitment, and a big investment, to develop a website from the ground up...We don’t view Webkinz World, or the experience of children’s virtual play worlds, as a ‘trend’. We think it is a new category of play, along with building blocks, dress-up, coloring books and make believe."

The Conversation (0)

Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Vertical
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford
Blue

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}