Kids, you can’t play with this Barbie doll because it’s a $300 holographic artificial intelligence (AI) Barbie that responds to commands and answers questions. It’s basically a Barbie hologram 2D projection of a 3D animation that is activated and acts as a digital assistant. It can respond to questions and follows commands without the use of smart phones. And it’s still developed and manufactured by Mattel, the original Barbie makers. Haven’t we seen enough of AI failures from Microsoft, Google, and Amazon since the technology is far from perfection yet? As every kid knows, Barbie has been a princess, a chef, an astronaut, a girlfriend to Ken, and even an animated character. Now, Mattel has revealed its new 3D Barbie Hello Hologram that lives inside a box and comes to life with a child – or anyone – saying the words, ‘Hello Barbie.’
Both children and adults can use the digital assistant and will cost almost $300 (probably $299, knowing retail strategies), commanding it to change clothes, setup reminders, dance to pre-programmed music, and ask various questions, though we don’t know how smart an AI Barbie makes if you ask her math and science questions. The Barbie Hello Hologram is being compared to Amazon’s Echo, but made for children. Knowing how bad Echo is, we’re hoping that Barbie will do much better, at least for the sake of the kids. Mattel isn’t sharing much about the holographic doll, and the box itself seems to be the same size as fairly large Bluetooth alarm clock. Exact specifications have also yet to be revealed. A smartphone is not necessary to use with the program. However, parents can pair the program with their phone for parental control and monitoring of the child’s interaction with the technology.
Users can also customize the look of the animated doll such as for hair and skin color. Unlike past “talking” Barbie dolls and toys released by the toy maker, the hologram’s conversation skills are the best so far that any Barbie can ever achieve. Since it is a holographic AI system, Mattel has ensured parents that the technology cannot store any information on its servers and that the final product is definitely compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). All data is encrypted and parents will be able to review everything the system collected. In 2015, Mattel released its most high-tech Barbie doll to date. It used voice recognition and Wi-Fi connection to have a two-way conversation with children as they play. Speech recognition software is implanted into the doll that converts audio into text and pulls keywords from human responses. However, hackers were able to penetrate into the doll to use it like a surveillance device into family conversations. A hacker was even able to obtain photos and chat logs from the toymaker. This is because the doll can also connect to the internet through Wi-Fi.