Sven Gerjets has learned numerous invaluable lessons – and a few counter-intuitive truths – since joining Mattel as chief technology officer in mid-2017.

In that role at the El Segundo, California-based toy manufacturer, it might be expected that Gerjets would be eager to inject any new offering from Barbie, Hot Wheels or American Girl with artificial intelligence, voice technology, or equivalent digital bells and whistles.

But, in fact, he reported, “What I’ve learned is putting technology in a plastic housing and calling it a ‘toy’ does not make it a toy.

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Sven Gerjets, hief technology officer, Mattel

“Toys are really things that parents are making bets on. They’ve got to be lower-cost experiences, because parents aren’t going to make a bet on a technology; they’re going to make bets on a number of smaller [factors]. They’ve got to be [appropriate for] play patterns that kids get for the right ages and stages that they’re in.”