How creepy is this?
Hello Barbie: Hang on, this Wi-Fi doll records your child’s voice?
From the The Register:
What could possibly go wrong?
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.
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.
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 system.