Hello Barbie is displayed at the Mattel showroom at the North American International Toy Fair in New York. Mark Lennihan / AP
Good Day World!
The first talking doll was introduced 125 years ago to the amazement and delight of parents everywhere. Today the idea of a talking doll is controversial.
You’d think parents would be delighted with this new version of Barbie, but that hasn’t been the case thus far.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), a group opposed to marketing aimed at children, launched a campaign to discourage parents from buying Hello Barbie (#HellnoBarbie).
So what happened in the last 125 years that makes a talking doll so sinister? Simply put, the first talking doll could not record anything like the new Talking Barbie does.
She is the first Internet-connected doll that can carry on a seemingly real conversation by recording what the child says and sending it via Wi-Fi to the cloud for Barbie's computer-generated response.
Here’s the rub: these conversations are stored and analyzed by ToyTalk, the San Francisco software company that makes this interaction possible.
Here’s where the controversy really gets interesting:
Mattel released a Thomas and Friends Talk to You app in 2014, based on the popular Thomas the Train character, that uses the same voice-recognition technology to communicate with children and it was a big hit with parents!
Mattel basically took that app and put it into Hello Barbie. Hmmmmm…
Time for me to walk on down the road…