The Barbie doll is now an Internet of Things item

You can count the Barbie doll among those 50 billion connected items as part of the phenomenon known as the Internet of Things.

Remember all the excitement when the Barbie doll and other action figures became fully articulated? Fully articulated means you could move the doll’s arm and leg joints as one piece; instead of two pieces.

I know I’m dating myself but now the new Hello Barbie doll from Mattel is not only fully articulated but the toy is also articulate. Thanks to the technology behind the Internet of Things Mattel has made a smart Barbie doll. Please feel free to submit any jokes you have in the comments section of this blog. But is a Barbie doll connected to the Internet any more interesting that sprinklers or corn? And, don’t forget Mattel produced more than 150 different career themed Barbie dolls over the years such as CEO Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, Pilot Barbie, and Nurse Barbie and yes even President Barbie. Ok sure those dolls did not sell as well as Malibu Barbie or Ballerina Barbie, but it’s a credit to Mattel for consistently and successfully reinventing the same toy over the years.

This so called smart Barbie doll marketed as Hello Barbie is no different.

The doll, priced at around $75, uses Wi-Fi and speech recognition technology from ToyTalk Inc. that enables girls to actual talk to and hold conversations with Barbie. Still imaginary conversations, but in this case Barbie will talk back to the child. ToyTalk is a San Francisco-based entertainment company.

Mattel is positioning this toy as “a whole new way to interact with Barbie.”

By pushing Barbie’s belt buckle you can talk to her similar to how a walkie-talkie works.

Mattel has recorded more than 8,000 lines of dialogue, but what makes this toy different is that Barbie will listen and remember the kids name as well as their likes and dislikes.

Now here is what Mattel is not openly telling customers about the Hello Barbie toy. Your child’s voice will get recorded, transferred to the cloud and stored on a ToyTalk server somewhere. The ToyTalk system learns from your child and helps the Hello Barbie doll better respond to your child.

ToyTalk has a natural language processing system on the back end that analyses the kid’s words and then quickly determines the best response. It could be something as simple as:

Hello Barbie doll inside charging unit
Hello Barbie doll inside charging unit

“Barbie, I like your hair.”

“Oh I like your hair too.”

Or something worrisome such as:

“Barbie, my parents are taking me on vacation for two weeks.”

Already Seattle-based law firm Keller Rohrback L.L.P. announced it is investigating reports that the Hello Barbie product may have violated children’s privacy. Keller Rohrback stated in a press release that “of particular concern is the potentiality that the doll could be hacked by a predator who could talk directly with a child through the doll.”

You need to download an app of course for IOS platform and Android. Sorry BlackBerry and Microsoft users.

The app is not included by the way along with the batteries. They are never included. Things never change in toy land it seems.

Parents will have to get involved to make this doll come to life as they will be forced to sign up to a ToyTalk account.

One last thing Barbie needs to be charged.

Three quick hits before I go: Wendy Lucas, the Country Manager of Dimension Data Canada, has retired. Lucas is a friend of CDN and a highly respected executive in the channel. CDN wishes her the very best.

Former McAfee Canada channel executive Pat Kewin is now Regional Sales Director at Fortinet.

StorageCraft Technology names former Dell SonicWall executive Marvin Blough as its new vice president of worldwide sales.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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