The Mattel toy company has teamed up with ToyTalk, a San Francisco-based tech company, to create Hello Barbie, a doll that has wifi capability and can engage in two-way conversations.
Hello Barbie has a microphone and speaker stored in her necklace, rechargeable batteries in her legs and a hold-to-talk button inside her belt.
A smartphone app connects Hello Barbie to the web and the child's spoken words are sent to ToyTalk’s secure server. The words are available to staffers who then type messages for Hello Barbie to speak, notes Newsweek.
Hello Barbie also keeps a cloud-based database of the child's likes and dislikes, which can also be used in the doll's conversations.
Parents can also choose to have their kid's information and words removed from ToyTalk’s databases.
"When users interact with ToyTalk, we may capture photographs or audio or video recordings (the "Recordings") of such interactions, depending upon the particular application being used."
"We may use, transcribe and store such Recordings to provide and maintain the Service, to develop, test or improve speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, and for other research and development or internal purposes."
"We may make such Recordings available to the parent account holder and permit the parent account holder to share such Recordings with third parties."
ToyTalk CEO Oren Jacob told The Register that none of what children say will be used in advertising and parents will get daily or weekly emails to document what their child has been saying to the doll, which goes on sale later this year for $74.99.
However, Joe Biggs of the conspiracy website InfoWars.com, recently issued a “buyer beware” warning and imagined some “evil things” that could possibly happen with Hello Barbie (video below).
Biggs described an imaginary scenario in which a hacker gets control of Hello Barbie and tells a child to go outside where a pedophile is waiting to abduct him or her.
Biggs also suggested that a couple, who are “Constitutionalists,” will have their home raided by the federal government, which will listen in on their conversations via Hello Barbie.
Biggs added that the new Barbie doll has “very bad implications” that made him “sick” to his stomach. Biggs admitted that he has no children, but warned parents not to buy it.