This is what Mattel did when they recently unveiled their Hello Barbie toy at the New York toy fair. Unfortunately instead of parents getting excited at the possibilities the dolls raised, concerns over privacy was raised instead. What the Hello Barbie doll does is that it interacts with your kid by talking to it.
Your kid talks back, their voice is recorded and parsed by a web server and based on the data processed by that web server, the Hello Barbie doll knows how to respond. It’s actually a pretty interesting feature and one that we probably use everyday with Siri, Google Now, or Cortana, but to have it in a toy meant for young children? This was where parents started to get worried.
According to Angela Campbell, faculty adviser at Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology, “If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child’s intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed.” However in response to the concerns, Mattel said, “Mattel is committed to safety and security, and Hello Barbie conforms to applicable government standards.”
ToyTalk, the company behind the technology used in the doll, stressed that the data gathered will not be used with marketing or publicity in anyway. “The data is never used for anything to do with marketing or publicity or any of that stuff. Not at all,” said Oren Jacob, the company’s CEO. That being said we have to admit that it does seem a tad creepy, but would you be okay with your kids playing with such a toy?
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