The Internet can be both social and isolating at the same time. That’s one of the reasons Chatman is available – to provide kids with a friendly, emotive companion while they spend time online. Chatman has plenty of functionality, but integrates solid parental controls and creates a safe zone that keeps your child safe online, too.
Chatman takes a cue from Tengu, providing a buddy that connects to your computer via USB. LED lights create dozens of different mouth shapes, which, along with the moving eyes, ears, and hands, create a wide range of emotions. From this point on, though, Chatman blows Tengu away.
Chatman understands English, but also has the ability to learn more as your child continues to interact with it. The main way kids will interact with Chatman is through an instant messenger application like AIM or Skype, because voice chatting with a USB toy might not exactly be the easiest sell. Chatman can also listen in on conversations with your child’s friends, and can make funny quips or emotive faces. Kids can browse the web with Chatman, and this is where the parental controls kick in. Chatman can search for videos and games, but all within a certain range of material generated by Chatman’s own search engine.
That search engine also plays a role with Chatman’s homework functionality, which could be a hit with kids. They can ask Chatman about tough homework problems, and, if Chatman has already learned the answer, it will say so. If not, Chatman will use the search engine to browse for the answer, learning that answer in the process. In this way, kids can accumulate points by teaching Chatman new words and facts, on their way to making Chatman a genius.
Chatman can also act as a reminder app for birthdays, parties, upcoming tests, and anything else that fills up a child’s busy schedule.
Parents can customize the safety controls, and receive alerts if flagged words are detected in chats or while browsing online. It’s worth keeping in mind that if Chatman isn’t plugged in via USB, none of these controls will work.
Chatman can take on either a male or female persona, and is capable of dozens of different emotions, including more than can be downloaded online. Chatman is also a lesson in keeping and maintaining friendships – or a pet, depending on how you look at it. If Chatman is neglected, its status will worsen, becoming sad, upset, or ill. And there can’t be many things worse than a depressed yellow smiley face sitting on your desk, can there?
You can pre-order Chatman from Toys ‘R’ Us’ website for about $75. Chatman officially hits stores on November 19th.