How The Talking `Tv Teddy' Tunes In

Don't be alarmed one of these days if the teddy bear sitting next to you on the couch starts talking back to the television. It's probably a TV Teddy from inventor Don Kings-borough, who also came up with the popular Teddy Ruxpin doll and Lazer Tag game of the 1980s. TV Teddy says whatever the TV tells him to say. A radio inside him picks up signals from specially encoded videotapes that are broadcast by an attachment to the VCR. Eventually, broadcast-TV programs may beam the signals. TV Teddy can get a child more involved with a show by commenting on the on-screen action, by singing along with the TV characters, or by asking questions.

The technological trick behind TV Teddy is to squeeze the messages into a narrow strip on the left edge of the screen. That part is hidden by the cabinet of the set. Kingsborough says the signals that make the teddy talk could allow interaction with home-electronics gear and computers as well. For now, his company, Yes! Entertainment Corp. in Pleasanton, Calif., has its hands full with TV Teddy. It has orders for more than 1 million of them, at an estimated price of $69 to $89, but will have only 500,000 to ship by Christmas.