(PCM) Recently, at the 2015 American International Toy Fair Mattel unveiled their brand-new super hi-tech talking Barbie doll called ‘Hello Barbie’. The doll comes embedded with a microphone which is activated by pressing a button. It is then able to record the child’s voice that is playing with the doll, upload the conversations to a cloud server and then by using voice recognition and detection data, analyze the recordings and allow the doll to actually think and make sense of the conversations.
A bit creepily, Barbie will actually be able to understand the child’s thoughts, emotions and hobbies and bring them up in the conversation the next time the doll is activated. While this is a huge leap for toy technology, many people are on the fence about whether or not the doll will act as an invasion of privacy.
Many feel that Mattel would be able to manipulate the recordings and somehow find a way to sneak subliminal advertising into the child’s interaction with the doll. They feel that the child is not just talking to the doll anymore during playtime, but actually sending information directly to a giant company for marketing tactics.
Critics are asking for the doll to be removed, while Mattel stands by the product and claims that they in no way plan to use the children’s interactions with the doll for any type of advertising or marketing purposes.
Yet another scary fact about the doll is that the child’s parents can request weekly emails of their children’s conversations with the doll. A lot of children play privately with their dolls and stuffed animals and often will confide in them during play time, this is often information that the child would rather keep private or they say certain things only because they are playing and this could cause much unnecessary concern by parents.
Do you think Mattel and ‘Hello Barbie’ are taking technology too far? Is this what we should be expecting for toys of the future?