Hello Barbie is Mattel’s hail mary after a three year sales decline, down 16% in 2014 alone. But as a parent, she’s creepy as hell. Barbie is high tech, using connection to WiFi and the internet to send conversational data with your kid to tailor Barbie’s responses to your child.
While it’s cool that someone thought to try to create a doll that can “realistically” talk with your kid, there are so many scenarios that don’t seem to be answered or addressed right now. What happens if the child confesses abuse, or depression, to Barbie? What will Barbie respond, if she responds at all? If someone steals the doll, what information would they have about the owner? Where and how is the information gathered about the user, and where is it kept? How is that information used beyond creating a response for Barbie? How will having rote, if tailored, responses to children effect imaginative play? Can Barbie be hacked? Is her transmission secure?
Maybe I’m wearing too many tin hats recently, but this just seems creepy to me on so many levels.