Mattel to Release Aristotle, a Smart Monitor for Kids

The device has been equated to an Amazon "Echo" but for children.

January 4, 2017, 10:28 AM

— -- Mattel has unveiled a high-tech electronic assistant for children featuring a camera, microphone and speakers, but some critics have already raised concerns over privacy for children using the device that has been called a smart baby monitor.

Mattel's Aristotle, which is to be announced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show taking place this week in Las Vegas, has been equated to Amazon's popular Echo device but modified for the needs of children. Aristotle is equipped with a camera, microphone and speakers that can connect to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the device can respond to children's commands.

"It does everything Amazon Echo does ... but it also has a huge list of child-specific things that it can do by voice," David Pogue, tech critic for Yahoo Finance, said today on "Good Morning America." "For example, if your baby wakes up in the night, it’ll play a lullaby and show a general light show in the hopes of lulling your kid back to sleep."

"For toddlers, it comes with a little camera," he said. "The toddler can show flashcards to it and it can identify what’s on the cards."

The device can also play games with children, such as identifying animals by the sounds they make, Pogue said. The device is also designed to grow with your child.

"By the time you’ve got a tween, it will do homework help and answer questions like that," Pogue said.

Like Amazon's Echo and Apple's Siri, requests made to Aristotle will feed back to what Pogue described as the "mother ship company" -- Amazon, Apple and Mattel for each respective device.

"Their computers process it and send it back to you," Pogue said of the questions asked to the devices. "That’s inherently scary to some parents."

The camera attached to the Aristotle, which will be released in June, raises another privacy concern for parents.

The camera links back to the owner's phone, Pogue said, noting, "It is never transmitted online. It is never sent out of your house."

A major difference between Mattel's Aristotle and the Echo and Siri technologies used by their parents is that Aristotle recognizes children's voices while the others do not, according to Pogue.

"Anything to do with children and technology which we don’t understand is inherently frightening," he said of parents' concerns about the new technology.

Mattel said in a statement to ABC News, "Keeping families safe and their data private is of utmost importance to Mattel and we have invested much of our time and research into this aspect of Aristotle."

Robb Fujioka, Mattel’s chief products officer, told Bloomberg that the company was focused on creating a product that "evolves and grows with your child."

"Honestly speaking, we just don’t know,” Fujioka told Bloomberg of the impact the device may have on children. “If we’re successful, kids will form some emotional ties to this. Hopefully, it will be the right types of emotional ties.”

The device will retail for $300, according to Bloomberg.

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