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article imageWorld's first streaming stick for kids launched by PBS

By James Walker     May 10, 2017 in Technology
PBS KIDS has unveiled the first HDMI TV streaming stick aimed specifically at children. Moulded in the shape of a racing car and featuring bright green colours, the device comes preloaded with digital games, videos and sing-along songs for young children.
The device was announced by PBS KIDS today. The media company has partnered with Ematic to create the dongle, called "Plug & Play." Ematic is a leading manufacturer of child-friendly versions of popular entertainment devices.
The Plug & Play comes with over 100 hours of content sourced from the PBS Kids channel. There's also a selection of exclusive games developed for the device, including treasure-finding title Rail Riders, music experience app Sound Box and shape and colours game Road Trip Adventure. PBS said more content will be added throughout the year during special seasonal releases.
Alongside the preloaded material, the dongle can play live video from the PBS KIDS 24/7 TV channel. It has to be connected to a Wi-Fi network but there aren't any other requirements. PBS is offering parents complete peace of mind that all the content delivered to the Plug & Play will be child-friendly. The device is fully sandboxed so material from external sources cannot be accessed.
Design-wise, PBS and Ematic have replaced the traditional sleek and slim form factor of other HDMI dongles with a green racing car, complete with wheels. Realising the device is too bulky to fit into most TV HDMI ports, PBS will be including an extension cord in the box.
The dongle has 1GB of memory and 16GB of on-board storage. It's described as being "Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-ready," although there's no explanation of whether Bluetooth is actually enabled. It's doubtful children will use the functionality so it's probable Ematic is building the device using off-the-shelf boards that include Bluetooth by default.
Although the Plug & Play is aimed firmly at children, PBS and Ematic are both talking about the impact it will have on parents. The dongle is being pitched as a way for parents to engage more with their children by handing them control of the TV and putting educational content into the living room. Simultaneously, it will help keep children entertained when the rigours of working prevent parents from being around.
"We know families are busy and on-the-go, and value spending time together whenever they can," said Dawn Ciccone, Vice President of Brand Licensing at PBS. "We have also learned from research that when parents are engaged with their children in activities related to their favorite TV shows or games, children learn more. PBS KIDS Plug & Play furthers PBS KIDS’ mission of providing high-quality, educational content for children anytime, anywhere, turning any TV into an interactive and fun learning resource."
The PBS KIDS Plug & Play stick will be go on sale nationwide in the U.S. before May 24. It'll be sold exclusively in Walmart stores and online priced at $49.99. Availability will expand to additional retail locations later in the year.
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