Hello Barbie: Internet Connected Doll Can Have Conversations

How Mattel's "Hello Barbie" will talk and listen to kids.

ByAlyssa Newcomb
February 17, 2015, 5:24 PM

— -- This Barbie really wants to get to know you.

Mattel unveiled "Hello Barbie" today, an Internet-connected version of the popular doll that is able to carry on a conversation with her owner using Wi-Fi and a partnering app.

Mattel's Barbie, perhaps the most iconic doll of the past five and a half decades, has come in life-size form. She's also starred in animated movies and even her own workout video, but Hello Barbie is the closest she has ever come to talking with her owner.

The high-tech makeover of the doll was done in collaboration with ToyTalk, a San Francisco-based entertainment company.

After connecting to a Wi-Fi network, "Barbie is online and talks directly to the ToyTalk servers," Martin Reddy, co-founder and chief technical officer at ToyTalk, told ABC News.

"Our artificial intelligence engine is running with the content of what Barbie can say. That AI engine's job is to decide what is best to say back," Reddy said. "All of the logic, behavior, content is on the servers."

The thought that security-conscious parents might not want an Internet-connected toy with a microphone in their home "is a very legitimate concern and one we are very concerned about as well," Reddy said.

"We already have several apps in market that do this. We stream audio off the device that is personal information," he said. "We have made sure we have built a solution that is COPPA [Children's Online Privacy Protection Act] compliant and approved by Kid Safe, an independent organization."

"Anything we capture is stored securely and we provide full access to the parents to that information as well," Reddy said. "They can review what is there, delete anything they don't like."

The $74.99 doll will be available this fall and includes the ability to play interactive games with Barbie and let her tell jokes and stories, according to Mattel.

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