My dear readers, whatever you do this Christmas, don’t tell your children about the latest iteration of Barbie from Mattel.
This latest US$75 Hello Barbie Doll (Rubin, 2015, September 16) now has the ability to respond to voice commands with over 8000 lines of pre-written dialogue, making Apple Siri, Google Now and even Microsoft Cortana look very primitive.
The Hello Barbie Doll, which can hold a conversation with any precocious 5 year old (Kim, 2015, September 17) is made possible thanks to advances in Voice assistant as well as Voice Recognition software. It had actually been made public at the New York Toy Fair in February 2015.
The Hello Barbie Doll connects via Wi-Fi to the cloud using technology created by a company called Toy Talk. Their voice recognition technology (Murphy, 2015 September 19) enables Hello Barbie to listen to the child and interpret what they intend to say in some cases. It’s activated by the child pressing the Belt buckle on the Talking Barbie Doll whenever your 6 year old gets talkative.
She’ll find herself entertained for hours at a time with a very knowledgeable and talkative Barbie. When you have worn out the batteries on Barbie, you can have her recharged via the charging Stand and change her skin tone to one of three (3) possible variations.
Toy Talk alerts that parents have full control over the doll, with access to all account information relating to conversation your child have with Talking Barbie. Not so crazy about the children being able to share their voice conversations with Talking Barbie on Social Media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
But I love the fact that you can monitor their activity and delete their voice recording and the associated Social Media accounts if your little girl starts asking uncomfortable questions.
That is, if parent are tech savvy, as totin’ a smartphone doesn’t mean parents are concerned about what their kids are chatting about with Talking Barbie about as pointed out by Executive Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Josh Golin, quote: “Children can play with dolls for hours at a time. It is completely unrealistic to expect that parents are going to monitor and delete all of their child’s audio files”.
Talking Barbie awakens fear about Privacy – Mattel asking and telling girls what they really want
Still, there are concerns about the fact that the dialogue with the doll may reinforce stereotypes about females, which may have a profound effect on young 6-y-o girls. Mattel may also be using Hello Barbie to gain insights into what little 6-y-o- girls like and may even predispose them to buying certain products.
Despite the makers of the doll, Mattel and ToyTalk following the guidelines of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Susan Linn, CCFC’s Executive Director of the CCFC (Coalition for a Commercial Free Childhood), expressed in a Press Release the fear that this talking AI doll is tantamount to spying on children to sell them more Mattel product in the future, quote: “Kids using ‘Hello Barbie’ aren’t only talking to a doll, they are talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial. It’s creepy — and creates a host of dangers for children and families”.
Hello Barbie their only hope – Mattel needs to hit to be profitable against smartphones and tablets
Still, if this talking doll is a hit, then Mattel will finally be back in the black, as they’ve not been faring so well against the onslaught of kid-friendly smartphones or Tablet.
- 59% reduction in net income to US$149.9 million or a loss of 44 cents a share
- 6% drop in sales to US$1.99 billion
- 16% drop in Barbie Doll sales to US$1 billion
Worse, they can’t fight against Kid friendly bumper cases that can turn your expensive Apple iPhone 6S Plus (Deer, 2015, September 20) or Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus (Deer, 2015, August 19) in a kiddie safe toy.
So if you’re not worried about a Hello Barbie Doll listening in on your kids conversations so Mattel can gain knowledge about what little girls really like, then maybe this US$75 toy, coming to a store near you in October 2015 is the doll you’ve been seeking.
Your daughter is sure to like this as it’ll make them put down your smartphone and stop playing with the BB-8 Ball Robot (Deer, 2015, September 3) and actual have a conversation…with Barbie!
- Snyder, B. (2015, March 25). Activists fight release of new high-tech Barbie doll from Mattel. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2015/03/25/barbie-privacy-susan-linn/
- Murphy, D. (2015, March 29). Wi-Fi-Friendly ‘Hello Barbie’ Arrives This Fall for $75. Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2479225,00.asp
- Deer, L. (2015, August 19). How Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus Keyboard Cover Nostalgia wins Applause. Retrieved from http://www.geezam.com/how-samsung-galaxy-s6-edge-plus-keyboard-cover-nostalgia-wins-applause/
- Deer, L. (2015, September 3). US$149 BB-8 Ball Robot from Star Wars awakens Midnight September 3rd 2015. Retrieved from https://lindsworthdeer.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/us149-bb-8-ball-robot-from-star-wars/
- Rubin, B.F. (2015, September 16). Barbie breaks her silence after more than half a century. Retrieved from http://www.cnet.com/news/barbie-breaks-her-silence-after-more-than-half-a-century-hello-barbie/
- Kim, S. (2015, September 17). Here’s What It’s Like Playing With the Talking ‘Hello Barbie’. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Business/playing-talking-barbie/story?id=33806499
- Deer, L. (2015, September 20). Why Apple iPhone 6S, Apple TV, Apple iPad Pro with Pencil spells Success. Retrieved from http://www.geezam.com/why-apple-iphone-6s-apple-tv-apple-ipad-pro-with-pencil-spells-success/