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Hello Barbie: Hang on, this Wi-Fi doll records your child's voice?

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posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 04:36 AM
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Vid Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a high-tech Barbie that will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing, and talk back to your kid. It will email you, as a parent, highlights of your youngster's conversations with the toy.

If Samsung's spying smart TVs creeped you out, this doll may be setting off alarm bells too – so we drilled into what's going on.

The Hello Barbie doll is developed by San Francisco startup ToyTalk, which says it has more than $31m in funding from Greylock Partners, Charles River Ventures, Khosla Ventures, True Ventures and First Round Capital, and others.

Its Wi-Fi-connected Barbie toy has a microphone, a speaker, a small embedded computer with a battery that lasts about an hour, and Wi-Fi hardware. When you press a button on her belt buckle, Barbie wakes up, asks a question, and turns on its microphone while the switch is held down.

The child's replies are recorded, encoded, and sent in an encrypted form to ToyTalk's servers, CEO Oren Jacob explained to The Register. The audio is processed by voice-recognition software, allowing ToyTalk's systems to figure out what was said and how best to reply.

The doll is loaded up with scripts to read, and one of these is selected depending on what the kid said. If the tyke shows an interest in a particular past-time or thing, the doll's backend software will know to talk about that – giving the kid the impression that chatty Barbie's a good, listening friend.

Crucially, the recorded audio of children's voices (and whatever else happens to be going on around them when they push the buckle button) is kept on ToyTalk's computers. This material is supposed to help Mattel and ToyTalk improve Barb's scripted replies. It's also good test data for developing the voice-recognition code.

Getting voice recognition to work for kids turns out to be a lot harder than for adults. Children use unstructured vocabulary and tenses a lot more than grownups, and the pitch of the voice is radically different.

The ToyTalk privacy policy page, dated last April well before Hello Barbie was revealed this week, states:

When users interact with ToyTalk, we may capture photographs or audio or video recordings (the "Recordings") of such interactions, depending upon the particular application being used.

We may use, transcribe and store such Recordings to provide and maintain the Service, to develop, test or improve speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, and for other research and development or internal purposes.

We may make such Recordings available to the parent account holder and permit the parent account holder to share such Recordings with third parties.

By using Hello Barbie, parents agree to these terms. It's not clear how long the recordings stay on ToyTalk's systems. The doll is only at the prototype stage – just in time to be shown off at Toy Fair 2015 in New York – but is expected to be ready for Christmas, with a price tag in the area of $75. The privacy terms could be tweaked by that point, we note.

None of what your child says is used to play them adverts, Jacob stressed to us; parents can get a weekly or daily email from Barbie giving them the highlights of what their precious little snowflake has been saying to the doll, even the temper tantrums.

"If the child is old enough to play with Barbie then no matter what they say, mummy and daddy will have heard it before," Jacob said. According to those of us who are parents at Vulture West, kids bitch to their dolls about parents constantly, so be prepared.

The doll ships with a PC application to configure the toy to connect to a Wi-Fi network. The software also allows parents to specify topics of conversation that are off limits, and add in personal information – such as a pet's name – to personalize the doll.

Barbie has been around about for 59 years now, and the high-tech version is being pushed out fast as Mattel seeks to halt falling sales. It's not the only company doing so: IBM is getting in on the game.

Big Blue is working with Elemental Path to bring its IBM's Watson machine-learning software to a range of kid's toys. Splashing out $99 on Kickstarter will get you a cuddly green dinosaur that can communicate with Watson's voice-recognition service wirelessly.

The inventors hope the dino can be used to not only provide a digital companion, but also educate its owner with a series of learning modules. Someone's been reading Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, it seems. ®

The Register




posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 04:40 AM
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"Barbie, why does mommy make funny monkey noises late at night?"

"Barbie, why do mommy and daddy always fight, I hate my life and wish I could have new parents"

"Barbie, If I never get a body image like you I will starve myself and get implants"


Yeah.... This would be creepy x 1000. And I don't believe the advert thing for a minute, give it a few years and some scum bucket will harvest it.

edit on 19-2-2015 by Qumulys because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 04:55 AM
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a reply to: lucifuge

AAAAHAHAHAHA.....ha

I just live how stupid masses are getting

Makes it whole lot easier to not feel sorry for them when they suffer



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 05:34 AM
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It probably won't work anyways. I bought the kids a 'my friend Cayla' doll and she is absolutely rubbish, if she does respond it is usually nothing to do with what you asked her.
Can't beat someone talking about people being stupid and making basic spelling mistakes while they do either!
edit on 19-2-2015 by biggilo because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 06:14 AM
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In order to invite listening and recording devices such as this into the home the parents have to buy it.

Makes me wonder who the guilty party really is. The toy company for using a doll to spy on your kids or the parents who pay cash to allow the company to spy on their kids.

If people don't buy it, they won't sell it. But that's asking the masses to think for themselves isn't it?

It's still that very simple tool of how to fight back against privacy invasions. Use your wallet to hurt them. Closing the purse strings, refusing to pay to have your privacy invaded hurts the most.

Peace



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 06:18 AM
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This is also the beginnings of A.I. and personal surveillance.



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 06:38 AM
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It's not the voice recording that would worry me as a parent it's the abilty for these dolls to be hacked. Whcich means some weirdo could get them to say weird thngs to your child.
I remember the story last year i think, about a baby monitor being hacked and some weirdo terrfying a toddler.



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 06:49 AM
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The Cayla doll doesn't require a pin to pair with it.



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 06:53 AM
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if she can talk, she can also be made to say things.
Just a matter of time before someone hacks them and tries some remote conditioning stuff.
this stuff happens with baby monitors already.
www.mirror.co.uk... lds-baby-monitor-3468827



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 07:00 AM
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This is just creepy deepy.

Side Note: IBM's gone full on retarded haven't they?

And I agree with jude11. Bring it into your home and you'll get what you paid for...and then some.



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 11:56 AM
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With any tech like this as well as RFID implants. It's not the data being sent out that bothers me, it's what agencies and hackers can send to the device to influence you and or your surroundings.



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 12:00 PM
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I wonder how many people's kids will be taken away from them because of the things it hears?

I have a feeling letting you kid play with this kind of technology will lead to poor socialization and people skills later in life. Kids are like sponges, and this kind of technology isn't perfect. If you ask it something it can't answer it won't reply. Kids will learn to only talk/ask in a way that the technology can understand.

We're programming our kids to be the perfect SIRI/Cortanna/Alexa users...



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 07:30 PM
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I can see with the advent of more AI and mind-control software that these companies would be buttering up the consumers and conditioning them to accept anything outside of the family to access their children at such a tender age.

The extent of these technologies and all of the new inventions in what, the last several months? down the pipeline all directs us towards that eventual super-interface where all of us will be subject to the loss of free-will, decisions to make and more deeply affecting tinkering with our brains and nervous systems with the development of newer electronics.

This can only be seen as the eventual mirror image of the grey space specie who have exhibited themselves to be a unisex slave race with android-like collective-minds much like a swarm of dragonflies. We can only continue to merge into this slave specie as the true rulers of this solar system and other star systems smile down on us with delight at our submission to them.



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 09:38 PM
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originally posted by: WilsonWilson
It's not the voice recording that would worry me as a parent it's the abilty for these dolls to be hacked. Whcich means some weirdo could get them to say weird thngs to your child.


Oh, no #!

This is AWESOME. Think of all the crap you could get up to with this thing. As an evil parent, I'd immediately hack it to get rid of ToyTalk and just echo back a doll-sounding alteration of MY voice.

"Sara, your daddy said to go to sleep and quit playing around with your toys! If you don't turn off that light, I'll have to call him on my little cell phone. And while I'm at it, I'm calling SANTA!"



posted on Feb, 19 2015 @ 09:40 PM
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originally posted by: MystikMushroom
I wonder how many people's kids will be taken away from them because of the things it hears?


That ought to be the subject of a fun investigation. Buy one of these things, and feed it material, see how long they take to raid the house.



posted on Feb, 21 2015 @ 07:29 PM
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am I the only one who thinks this is a positive? surveillance in some instances is neccessary and I have to say, as a parent of two rabble rousin' youngins myself, I like to keep tabs on them. Now I dont have a hidden camera set up, thats ridiculous, but I would like to monitor what ideologies/influences are coming into my child. Its funny how people complain about this but not about baby monitors, which is just as intrusive as a talking doll. I think the most alarming thing here is that the doll is sent to the company so corporations can monitor your child. This is why I think this surveillance is uneccessary because it transcends just allowing parents to closely monitor their kids but allowing multi-national corporations to spy on children and use that as a base for targeting advertisements.



posted on Feb, 21 2015 @ 08:38 PM
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originally posted by: jude11
In order to invite listening and recording devices such as this into the home the parents have to buy it.

Makes me wonder who the guilty party really is. The toy company for using a doll to spy on your kids or the parents who pay cash to allow the company to spy on their kids.

If people don't buy it, they won't sell it. But that's asking the masses to think for themselves isn't it?

It's still that very simple tool of how to fight back against privacy invasions. Use your wallet to hurt them. Closing the purse strings, refusing to pay to have your privacy invaded hurts the most.

Peace


It's not always the parents fault. The grandparents are usually the ones who waste a lot of money on useless junk for the grandchildren, but in this case, it could be a greater than usual annoyance.



posted on Feb, 21 2015 @ 08:42 PM
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originally posted by: lecanard
am I the only one who thinks this is a positive? surveillance in some instances is neccessary and I have to say, as a parent of two rabble rousin' youngins myself, I like to keep tabs on them. Now I dont have a hidden camera set up, thats ridiculous, but I would like to monitor what ideologies/influences are coming into my child. Its funny how people complain about this but not about baby monitors, which is just as intrusive as a talking doll. I think the most alarming thing here is that the doll is sent to the company so corporations can monitor your child. This is why I think this surveillance is uneccessary because it transcends just allowing parents to closely monitor their kids but allowing multi-national corporations to spy on children and use that as a base for targeting advertisements.


Baby monitors are used to monitor a baby's sleeping, so you don't have to run in every five minutes to check on your baby. If someone is listening in on a baby sleeping that is hardly confidential information. Now if you leave the monitor on while you talk about your secret backroom gambling, well that's just your own stupidity. This doll is nothing like that, it is specifically designed to eavesdrop and you are right when you say it is basically for advertisements or future product development (like the Simpson's episode of funzo).



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