Grimes is stepping into the toy business with “Grok,” a character that she voiced for Curio’s new line of screen-free AI plushies.
The toy is not affiliated with the AI chatbot backed by Grimes’ ex, Elon Musk, which is also named Grok. Musk described xAI’s Grok as having a “rebellious streak” and a willingness to answer “spicy questions that are rejected by most other AI systems.” It’ll be vulgar if you ask.
Grok, Gabbo and Grem, on the other hand, are designed to encourage play. In a conversation with Curio founders Misha Sallee and Sam Eaton, posted on Curio’s blog, Grimes spoke about encouraging creativity in children early through dynamic conversations, rather than a static list of prompts.
“I just like the idea of bringing more imagination, or making it easy to access imagination in your kind of current existence as opposed to just observing it in other existences, like on screen or in a movie or book or something,” she said.
In Curio’s announcement video, Grimes said that she didn’t want her kids “in front of screens,” but she’s “really busy.”
Curio says that the toys can hold full conversations so that kids (or adults) can practice their communication skills. There’s Grok, an anthropomorphized rocket ship voiced by Grimes. There’s Gabbo, who looks like a plush Gameboy with arms and legs. And there’s Grem, a cyan bunny with hearts on its cheeks. The beta versions of the toys are available for preorder until Sunday, and are priced at $99 each. They’re recommended for kids aged 3 to 7 — Grimes’ oldest child with Musk, named X Æ A-Xii, is 3.
The plushies will answer questions about how rocket ships are made, play games with the user and encourage kids to develop listening and conversation skills. Encased in the plushie is a rechargeable, Wi-Fi-connected speaker and mic, which is connected to an app for parents to set up and monitor interactions with their kids.
“When I think about kids, my goal is to preserve as many minds as possible from here, and how much can we replace iPads, basically?” Grimes said in the conversation with Eaton and Sallee.
She later added, “I think the more you keep things verbal, too, the more you’re sort of forcing people to use their working memory. There’s all these little things that, you know, make our brains better just a little bit here and there.”
Grimes got involved with Curio after responding to a post about the future of AI-integrated toys, in which “children’s teddy bears will speak to them and make them feel safe at night.” Grimes replied that it would be “great if safe,” and that she’d love if her kids could hang out with a “culture ship mind in a teddy bear.”
The line launched about a week after Musk’s ChatGPT competitor, also named Grok, began rolling out to X Premium Plus subscribers.
“Grimes is doing the voice for the toy, and this one is a rocket who is coincidentally named Grok and predated the Grok AI announcement, so there’s a funny overlap there,” Sallee said in the conversation with Grimes.
As Business Insider reports, Grimes’ Grok was trademarked first.
Curio filed its trademark for Grok on September 12 this year. xAI filed its trademark for Grok on October 23. Curio’s Grok is short for Grocket, since Grimes’ kids spend so much time around rockets because their father owns SpaceX, The Washington Post reports.
Grimes and Musk are currently engaged in a custody battle over their three children, and have filed child custody lawsuits against each other in California and Texas, respectively.
In a post addressing the name, Grimes said that by the time Curio realized that xAI’s Grok team was also using the name, “it was too late for either AI to change names.”
“So there are two AI’s named Grok now, I can’t wait for them become friends,” she said. “I can’t believe even ai can’t avoid showing up at school and meeting another kid with the same name haha.”