Barbie has always been one to get with the times. From the moment she was brought on the scene in 1959, she has felt the effects of a changing society throughout history.
She has been criticized for conveying a really unrealistic view of body image for young girls, and she's also been through the controversy that she was not a good role model for young girls because she was programmed and designed to convey a very traditional female role.
In 1992, a version of the doll that spoke was programmed to say phrases like "I love shopping!" and "Math is hard!" The American Association of University Women criticized the doll, pointing out that the doll conveyed that women cannot be good at, or understand, math.
Now in the digital age, she's been rethought again, but this time as a hologram that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to communicate with those who play with her. According to Mattel, the new toy will give "girls an entirely new way to engage with Barbie throughout the day."
The toy was unveiled at New York City's Toy Fair early February. The toy, called Hello Barbie Hologram, uses voice recognition so children can communicate with her in a completely new way.
The hologram can give kids weather reports, alarms, night lights, and reminders, according to Mattel. In fact, when it rains, holographic cats and dogs fall from the "sky." Children can say "Hello Barbie," to get the hologram to react, very similar to the way Siri responds to iPhone users saying "Hey Siri."
Some people raised privacy concerns about the way certain other products using AI, like iPhones and the Amazon Echo, stores information it collects from voice commands.
The company quickly refuted the issue by saying it product uses 256-bit encryption to convey the voice commands to a cloud server that meets the Federal Trade Commission's Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule. Parents, therefore, can see all the information the toy collects.
As for the price? It's still TBD, but Mattel let consumers rest assured it will be less than $300. The toy will be available in late 2017.
You might also like