Published: Sun, October 08, 2017
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Mattel thinks again about AI Babysitter

Mattel thinks again about AI Babysitter

Mattel announced this week that Aristotle was being cancelled and would not be coming to market.

Now Mattel has said that the production of new items is not included in the company's strategy.

The toy maker, known for Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars, said Wednesday that it was killing its upcoming Aristotle smart hub that works similar to web-connected speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. It had originally been set to debut this summer for $299. In it, the lawmakers said they welcomed "the innovative and responsible use of artificial intelligence and speech recognition", but asked Mattel to answer a series of questions including "Will Aristotle always be "on", meaning the device will collect information regardless of whether the child directly engages with it?" and "Does Mattel plan to share or sell information to third parties?" Technology is increasingly ready to embrace our robot future, but maybe humans aren't. It can adjust lighting levels, noting when babies wake up and then playing a lullaby or turning on a night light. The device was created to "comfort, entertain, teach, and assist kids during each developmental state".

But several activist groups and at least two USA lawmakers said Aristotle threatened to undermine privacy and could open up children to marketers, hackers and other threats.

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Mattel's AI device may be off the docket for now, but it is only one of many products using smart technology to help care for or entertain children.

Pressure being built up for the removal of the product, but it is not clear yet if Mattel will remove the product.

In a September 28 letter, Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, and Sen.

But the device's presence in kids' bedrooms raised serious concerns from privacy advocates about data collection, as well as questions about how interacting with such a device could impact a toddler's development.

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"Never before has a device had the capability to so intimately look into the life of a child", wrote Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and Sen.

This isn't a new experience for Mattel.

Mattel initially baulked when it first faced accusations of attempting to tacitly datamine playpens, reiterating the device would be secured with 256-bit encryption, with data stored locally unless it had parents' express permission to upload to the cloud.

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