The first horseman of the apocalypse has arrived, and her name is Hello Barbie.
Become friends with humanity's downfall. (via The Toy Spy)
Of course, when people realized this and started complaining, ToyTalk CEO Oren Jacob said that "No data collected can nor will be used for marketing, advertising, nor publicity purposes." Their primary goal in collecting and potentially sharing the data is to help improve Barbie's talking technology and learn what kids are interested in talking about with their dolls. Mattel also issued this warm and comforting statement: "Mattel is committed to safety and security, and Hello Barbie conforms to applicable government standards."
Even still, are we totally cool with buying our kids products that record them and share those recordings with companies? Is that where we're at? And, by the way, even without this recording kids' voices element, this thing is creepy. Just take a look at this video by The Toy Spy from the New York Toy Fair, where Hello Barbie was introduced:
First, let's try to get past the fact that the pitch woman is dressed exactly like Barbie and has to talk into Barbie's breasts in order for the doll to "hear." And let's also try to get past the flashing blue light on Barbie's chest that makes her look like she's a mid-grade Cylon. I know this isn't the newest argument, but maybe it's a good idea to have kids make up their own conversations using their imaginations like they've done for thousands of years instead of giving them a doll that has set responses? Adaptable, yes, but still set within certain parameters.
If we take away imagination from kids, what do we have left? A bunch of unemployable small adults with poor social skills? No thanks, Mattel.