USB Key Switches PC into 'Kids' Mode'

Sep 4, 2007
Toshiyuki Oomori, Nikkei Electronics
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Bandai Co. Ltd. and Buffalo Inc. Sept. 3, 2007 announced that they jointly developed the "Pasocon (personal computer) Kids Key," a USB key type software package that switches the PC into kids-dedicated mode once it is inserted to a USB port.

Buffalo will release this product Sept. 14, targeting six- to nine-year-old children and their parents. There is no SRP, but street pricing is expected to be 3,480 yen.

Licensed by the Walt Disney Japan Ltd., Bandai and Buffalo employed two Disney characters. The product can be chosen from Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh versions.

If you insert this product to a USB port of a Windows XP or Vista PC, the PC will log off first, install software and log on in Kids mode. Since all these operations are carried out automatically just after inserting the key to a USB port, users do not need to do software installation themselves. If parents set a Windows logon password, children can't enter a parent's Windows environment even if they remove the key.

In the Kids mode, a dedicated browser is provided to block children's access to harmful Web sites. Children can neither access any other sites but "Yahoo! Kids" nor directly enter any URL (parents can set the mode to use Windows standard browser as well). And the mode only allows children to use application software and files permitted by their parents.

It is also available to regulate hours to use a computer in a day (initially configured at one hour). The mode can also display "Toy Box mode" window prepared for preschool children.

Bandai planned the product and realized the joint development by teaming-up with Buffalo in early 2007, which has expertise in PC devices. The product will be marketed as a PC peripheral via electronics outlets and the Internet. It will not be sold through toy distribution routes. Sales of 200,000 units are projected through the end of March 2008, the companies said.