Reason 1: Child’s Play
Dressing up the unrealistically-shaped dolls in glamorous outfits is sooo 2014. This year the focus is on creepy, high-tech dolls which can actually interact with kids. Created by San Francisco startup ToyTalk, the Hello Barbie doll has received more than $31million in funding from various donors. These donors have obviously never seen Child’s Play.
Pressing a button on the Barbie’s belt buckle causes the doll to ‘wake up’, connect to Wi-Fi and ask the user a question. The kid’s reply is recorded, encoded, and sent to the ToyTalk’s servers in an encrypted form. So far, pretty creepy; but then it gets worse. The audio is processed by voice-recognition software, allowing the systems to work out what was said, and then how best to reply.