Although there are concerns about privacy with Mattel's Hello Barbie, the technology behind it is able to take a formerly inanimate ojbect and albeit not good enough to pass a Turing test give children the impression the toy is alive.
This summer, when I visited Mattel’s sprawling campus in El Segundo, a prototype of Hello Barbie stood in the middle of a glass-topped conference table, her blond tresses parted on the right and cascading down to her left shoulder. She looked like your basic Barbie, but Aslan Appleman, a lead product designer, explained that her thighs had been thickened slightly to fit a rechargeable battery in each one; a mini-USB charging port was tucked into the small of her back.
A microphone, concealed inside Barbie’s necklace, could be activated only when a user pushed and held down her belt buckle. Each time, whatever someone said to Barbie would be recorded and transmitted via Wi-Fi to the computer servers of ToyTalk. Speech-recognition software would then convert the audio signal into a text file, which would be analyzed. The correct response would be chosen from thousands of lines scripted by ToyTalk and Mattel writers and pushed to Hello Barbie for playback — all in less than a second.
‘‘Barbie, what is your full name?’’ Appleman asked the doll as I watched.
‘‘Oh, I thought you knew,’’ Barbie replied. ‘‘My full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.’’
|"The only governments left are two theocracies and myself, a communist state." Playing Civilization II For the Last 10 Years|
|Yes, Video Games are political|
|Cheese or Font?|
|Adventures In Sex City|
|Global Warming for Gamers|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|“Google isn’t liable because it is nothing and nowhere and endless.”|
|The Growth of Corruption Reporting Websites|
|“The world’s first hydrogen-powered train.”|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|"Emotional-processing software has gotten so good that ad companies are looking into 'mood-targeted' advertising."|
|“The first-ever driverless mass transit test program.”|
|“A dystopian vision of the future is already happening in China.”|
|Hit "Insert Coin" Twice and Play Google Pac Man With Two Players|
|“Rubbish waste is now so prolific it will become fossilised.”|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|“People talk about bankers being amoral. They are starting to talk about tech people in similar language.”|