Hello Barbie: Tech Savvy Doll that Works Like Apple’s Siri
When the very first Barbie doll rolled out of stores in the 1950’s, she instantly became a smash hit. Every little girl wanted her, and of course, wanted to be like her. Half a century later, Barbie’s role in children’s lives hasn’t changed – she remains to be a fashion and career icon. And even better, the latest model, called Hello Barbie, is the most high tech one yet.
Hello Barbie allows kids to converse and tell stories with her. From simple things like, “What’s your name?” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The doll can easily remember these details, and even respond to questions in real time. Think of it as having a chat with Siri, but not on your iPhone.
How does it work? Mattel teamed up with San Francisco-based tech company Toy Talk, which has been developing conversational kids apps for smart phones and tablets for years. When a child speaks into Hello Barbie’s microphone, the speech is transmitted wirelessly into a secure third party server. Artificial intelligence programmed into the server sends back to the doll the response or reply to the child.
Some experts say that this type of toy may be detrimental to the learning development of children, saying that it’s still better to have real friends to talk to, instead of inanimate objects. Other parents have become paranoid and claim that the device can soon be used to spy on their homes and listen in on their conversations.
In any case, interested buyers can expect Hello Barbie to be available in stores in November 2015, for a price of about $75. One can start pre-ordering the doll from Mattel’s online shop. Kids can choose from three hair colors for the doll: light brown, dark, and blonde.