Jul 19, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Is the New 'Hello Barbie' Spying on Your Children?

Mar 19, 2015 10:59 AM EDT

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We've seen Barbie's talk in those Disney movies that made us want to talk to them in real life too. Finally there is a Barbie that can actually gossip with you.

In the 2015 Toy Fair that was held in New York City on Feb 16, there was this Barbie talking with people. It is a WiFi connected doll that can talk back to you. But there's a hitch. Some outlets have reported that the Barbie will also repeat what you say back to the company.

According to Mattel, there is a small button on her belt, which when pressed will ask you a question and then record the response with an embedded microphone. The users' voice is then processed and the whole recording is then sent to their cloud servers.

ToyTalk, the San Francisco based startup, is the company that created the voice recognition software for this Barbie. Once they receive the recordings in their cloud servers, they then decode and then formulate an appropriate response from the Barbie. You can consider this as Siri or Cortana but in the form of a Barbie and also with a different voice, and also the fact that she might be able to communicate much better than both of them in due time.

ToyTalk mentions that the Barbie will learn the user's name, their interest and conversational habits over time and will then be able to have better conversations with them.

As far as the privacy goes, here's a snippet of what ToyTalk's privacy page says about it: 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.

They further mention on their page that the recordings may be shared with parents and third parties:

We may share Recordings with Service Providers who assist us in providing the Service, developing, testing and improving speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, or otherwise conducting research and development.

We may also share feature extracted data and transcripts that are created from such Recordings, but from which any personal information has been removed, with Service Providers or other third parties for their use in developing, testing and improving speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms and for research and development or other purposes.

So, are you ready to talk to the Barbie? 

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