More reports on: Toys

Mattel launching Hello Barbie Hologram at New York Toy Fair

20 February 2017

Mattel, the maker of Barbie, is going high-tech with the launch of the Hello Barbie Hologram at the New York Toy Fair this week.

The Hello Barbie Hologram, Mattel's AI initiative, is  a small box that comes with an animated projection of Barbie that responds to children's questions.

The toy could be considered as a kid-friendly version of Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri.

An image of Barbie is projected on the screen of the holographic box, which springs to life when a kid says the magic words "Hello Barbie." The child can ask Barbie various questions, such as what the weather was like, or request change her dress, set up an alarm, act as a nightlight, or give out reminders.

Commentators point out that since Barbie would work as a voice assistant, this would raise privacy issues. According to Mattel, unlike the Amazon Echo and Google Home, the toy would not record and upload the conversations to its servers.

The holo-box which would work as a Bluetooth speaker would also use 256-bit encryption while transmitting information to and from the cloud in order to meet the Federal Trade Commission's requirements in accordance to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA).

A smartphone is not required to use the Hello Hologram, but it gave parents, a measure of control over their child's interaction with it, like setting a bed time so they did not sit up all night gossiping with the blonde (or brunette) avatar.

Mattel said no information was stored on its servers and claimed that the final product would be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA).

Data would be encrypted and parents would be able to review everything the system collected.

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