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August 11, 2005

iZ

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It's from Zizzle.

No, that's not Snoop Dogg's home planet but, rather, a start–up run by Roger Shiffman, a co–founder of Tiger Electronics, which helped make Furby a household word.

Tell you what: this guy has a way with words. But I digress.

This morning's USA Today brings us an unbylined article about a recent hush–hush meeting at a "New Jersey Starbucks" to demonstrate the iZ.

It's a "funky–looking, 9–inch–tall, three–legged plastic character" that freaks out when you connect it to an iPod or other music source.

Ann Meyer wrote in an August 8 Orlando Sentinel story that the device "has a Sputnick space–age look, with three pose–able white legs, a shiny green body and an orange–and–white belly button that doubles as a control."

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On its own it does stuff, don't get me wrong: when you press its belly you hear one of seven musical beats.

When you turn the right ear you can add up to seven rhythms.

The left ear alters up to seven melodies.

You can add other sound effects by touching the "flicker" switch.

Then you create your own tune by altering the tempo.

So it's basically a kiddie–sized synthesizer, is what it is — until you connect your iPod, as noted above.

That's when the fun really starts.

"The character's wide eyes bounce to the beat and its colorful flashing horn nose responds to the music."

But iZ izn't alone: Tiger is launching a $30 palm–size dog named... i–Dog (as in all men are) that wiggles and lights up when you connect it to an iPod.

Makes sense, really: here you have a case of life imitating art.

After all, when you connect a person to an iPod they start to wiggle and dance.

iZ makes its debut in Times Square next month.

After that it'll be available at Wal–Mart, Target, Toys R Us and fine stores everywhere.

Note: I do not sell — nor will I be selling — the iZ or the i–Dog, for that matter.

So before the flood of emails asking me to sell you one or where to get one starts, please: read the two sentences above.

Now, read the three sentences above.

Good.

ilounge is running an iZ giveaway contest right this very zeptosecond.

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Anyone can enter: just send them an email (no message necessary) and you'll be automatically entered in a random drawing to be held on August 20.

10 iZ's will be given away to the lucky winners.

Of course, the losers will be forever bombarded with spam and ads and God knows what else but hey, nothing in this life is free.

ilounge also has put up three partial pictures (above and below) of the iZ to tease you until the final unveiling.

Here's the USA Today story.

    iZ Bops To Your Beat Or To Your iPod's Rhythm

    "That's the strangest looking thing I've ever seen."

    At the next table, 9-year-old Katherine Furmanek couldn't help but notice the funky-looking 9-inch-tall, three-legged plastic character I was meeting in a recent hush-hush meeting at a New Jersey Starbucks.

    I was with marketers from a start-up called Zizzle; these guys helped make Furby a household name while at Tiger Electronics.

    When kids press the belly of the new Zizzle toy, named iZ, one of seven musical beats is heard.

    When they turn his right ear, they can add up to seven rhythms; his left ear alters up to seven melodies.

    Other sound effects are added when they touch a "flicker" switch. Kids "create" their own music by altering the tempo.

    But the reason you're reading about iZ in a tech column is what happens when you connect iZ to an iPod or other musical source.

    The character's wide eyes bounce to the beat, and its colorful flashing horn nose responds to the music.

    Do I detect a trend here? Tiger (owned by Hasbro) is launching a $30 palm-size pooch called I-Dog that wiggles and lights up with a connected iPod (or other player).

    It was an instant hit with my 20-month-old daughter.

    Given the fickle and faddish nature of toys and tech, it's impossible to predict how iZ will fare when it makes its debut in Times Square next month. (It will be sold for around $40 at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Target and elsewhere.)

    But iZ charmed me and Katherine Furmanek at Starbucks.

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    "I love it," she says.

August 11, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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