Amy Francetic, 32
Young humans spend an awful lot of time playing with toys and, these days, an equally large amount playing computer-based games. The two areas would seem to offer a natural intersection. So far, though, there hasn’t been much crossover. Amy Francetic, co-founder of Zowie Intertainment, hopes to change that with "smart toys." Zowie’s "Play-Zones," due in stores this fall, are toys that connect to a PC running accompanying software. The link allows children to use the software by playing with the toys: Moving the telescope mounted on a pirate ship in one PlayZone, for example, changes the view displayed on the computer screen. Francetic believes these toys will encourage the cooperative play that’s common with conventional toys but rare for computer games. She brings to the company a background of developing CD-ROM games for Hasbro and Electronic Arts, as well as work at Interval Research,the research lab from which Zowie was spun off. "Her ability to inspire creative people to solve technical design problems will help her continually to uncover the strengths of emerging technology platforms," says Stewart Bonn, who worked with Francetic at Electronic Arts.