Barbie’s newer technologically advanced version talking “Hello Barbie” being developed
“Barbie” was introduced in 1959 by an American toy-company Mattel Inc. and it has gained wide popularity around the world. December 2015 would witness a talking Barbie i.e. “Hello Barbie”; though a prototype has been presented at 2015 New York Toy Fair though the exact date commercial release is not yet disclosed.
Hello Barbie is being produced by Mattel in collaboration with Toy Talk which is US based Start-up.
It is found that kids are more attracted to smarter versions of the toys which can engage with them. Hence, toy makers are busy manufacturing such technologically advanced toys to meet the demands of next gen children. One such toy was Cayla, which was introduced in Nov 2014. This toy uses speech recognition and Google translation tools to operate.
On the similar lines “Hello Barbie” is a toy which is connected to Internet and uses the “speech recognition technology” to interact with the kids. So “Hello Barbie” would listen, talk, tell stories, play with the kids. “Hello Barbie” is expected to set the parents back by around $74.99 (£49).
How would this work?
“Hello Barbie” presented at the New York Toy Fair, has been equipped with a microphone, speaker and two LEDs embedded in the necklace. It also has a small computer which has internet connectivity and rechargeable batteries placed in its legs, batteries have a capacity of working for one hour at a stretch when fully charged. “Hello Barbie” works by using the Wi-Fi for connectivity.
It captures the child’s sounds (from its talks) records, encodes and sends it to the processor of Toy Talk in encrypted form where the sound is decoded and the response is sent back to the device, so within a fraction of second it would seem that the smart device understands and talks to the child as if the child is communicating with some “live human”. The toy also has the provision of sending emails to the parent regarding its conversation with the kid which would help parents to understand their child better.
To activate the toy one must press a button which is provided in the belt, this would put the microphone, speaker and processor in the ON mode. Then the toy would start recording everything including the sound and photographs and send it to the processors at Toy Talk. Basically, the recorded voice will be stored on the Toy Talk computers to further help the company in improving Barbie‘s scripted replies and to develop further voice recognition codes.
As per CEO Oren Jacob, the toy has been loaded with scripts and the toy would also remember its conversation with the kid and smartly use this data to connect with the kid e.g. if child has mentioned about some favorite song or dance in last conversation, the toy will mention about this in its next conversation too. This makes the child feel as if “Hello Barbie” is actually listening to them.
Now, this is a bit creepy because as soon as the toy is put ON it will start recording everything that is happening around in its surrounding so there is a question of privacy invasion and also some cyber criminals might hack this and use the information for wrong purpose!!! As was the case of Toy Cayla which was hacked artificially by some software developers and they made her say what they wanted.
In all, with technology is developing widely and the kids too are being exposed to this right from the stage when they “play with toys.”