Big Barbie Is Watching You: Meet The WiFi-Connected Doll that Talks to Your Kids & Records Them

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Earlier this month, I highlighted the fact that the latest Samsung Smart TV can and will listen to your conversations, and will share the details with a third party in the post: A Very Slippery Slope – Yes, Your Samsung Smart TV Can Listen to Your Private Conversations.

Well a couple of weeks later, and we learn that Mattel’s latest high-tech Barbie doll will bring the “internet of things” right into your child’s playpen. From the The Register:

Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a high-tech Barbie that will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing, and talk back to your kid. It will email you, as a parent, highlights of your youngster’s conversations with the toy.

 

If Samsung’s spying smart TVs creeped you out, this doll may be setting off alarm bells too – so we drilled into what’s going on.

 

The Hello Barbie doll is developed by San Francisco startup ToyTalk, which says it has more than $31m in funding from Greylock Partners, Charles River Ventures, Khosla Ventures, True Ventures and First Round Capital, and others.

 

Its Wi-Fi-connected Barbie toy has a microphone, a speaker, a small embedded computer with a battery that lasts about an hour, and Wi-Fi hardware. When you press a button on her belt buckle, Barbie wakes up, asks a question, and turns on its microphone while the switch is held down.

 

The doll is loaded up with scripts to read, and one of these is selected depending on what the kid said. If the tyke shows an interest in a particular past-time or thing, the doll’s backend software will know to talk about that – giving the kid the impression that chatty Barbie’s a good, listening friend.

 

Crucially, the recorded audio of children’s voices (and whatever else happens to be going on around them when they push the buckle button) is kept on ToyTalk’s computers. This material is supposed to help Mattel and ToyTalk improve Barb’s scripted replies. It’s also good test data for developing the voice-recognition code.The ToyTalk privacy policy page, dated last April well before Hello Barbie was revealed this week, states:

 

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.

 

By using Hello Barbie, parents agree to these terms. It’s not clear how long the recordings stay on ToyTalk’s systems.

You’ve been warned: Big Barbie is Watching You.

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For related articles, see:

A Very Slippery Slope – Yes, Your Samsung Smart TV Can Listen to Your Private Conversations

Big Brother is Coming to Healthcare – How Hospitals are Entering Your Credit Card Info Into Algorithms

Big Brother is Coming…To Your Brokerage Account

Retail Big Brother – Mannequins Are Now Using Facial Recognition Technology

Big Brother is Coming to Your Car

Mayor Bloomberg on Drones: “Oh it’s Big Brother. Get Used to it”

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bid the soldiers shoot's picture

In other words

your child can be on the No-Fly list before she's 3

Drachma's picture

Incrementalism is the key. People have no memory of how they came to be where they are. This will appear normal to many. Those who've been properly squared by 'education' will embrace the technology for fear of being labelled a laudite and because a cyborg doll that records everything their children do is somehow the 'future of parenting'. Whole cohorts have been groomed to accept this as natural. They will excuse every infiltration into their private lives and will eventually attack others for not doing the same. The concept of the power of privacy is lost on these people. Essentially they have abrograted all responsibilty for self preservation. I may be wrong, but have you scanned the zombified countenance of those ambulating from mall to mall lately.

Creepy A. Cracker's picture

So if a boy touches Barbie in the "wrong" places the feds show up at the little tyke's door?  "We saw what you did, son.  Lifetime sexual predator status for you!"

disabledvet's picture

"It ain't in the takin but in the sharin."

Big Bubble is watching you too.

Free Jon Corzine indeed. 

Might want to revisit that law that got passed in the Great Depression that all of Wall Street got so excited about when it was repealed. The one that said the savings in the Bank stays in the Bank for that purpose (and lending of course) and not for saying....going 1000 to one margin shorting the Swiss franc.  

 

Smooth Hawley er sumptin?

DriveByLurker's picture

Wait till someone hacks this and Barbie's suddenly giving the neighbor's kids inappropriate advice, like "Let's go streaking!", "Winners Always Take Drugs!", or "Buy the Dips!"

suteibu's picture

The big money will be made selling the conversation content to advertisers.

Little girl, "I'm hungry."

Barbie, "I love Oreo cookies, don't you?"

Farmer Joe in Brooklyn's picture

I was thinking the same thing.  This WILL get monetized by corporate interests.  And it WILL be used by our government as another avenue for information.

Automatic Choke's picture

way ahead of you, driveby.....   i've had lots of fun making tasteless hacks of Furby and of the "That Was Easy" button in the past.  Sounds like it is time to get Barbie to have some new interests......

pragmatic hobo's picture

hell ... if you have a monitor with built in web-cam/microphone, then more than likely you are, or have been, watched ...

homiegot's picture

Eat something you anorexic freak!

NoWayJose's picture

NSA must need more content for their child porn sites.

Bumbu Sauce's picture

Awesome spy tool for the layman.

Bastiat's picture

Proto-Fembot!!

Icewater Enema's picture

just wait until your kids are sporting "wearables" (wifi-connected clothes) AND playing with Barbie. Then Barbie will start giving your daughter shit about her weight. "Gee Sally, is everything allright? What's the matter, don't you like vegetables?" Parents will love this. A robotic baby sitter. 

Fox-Scully's picture

When does this crap end?

MontgomeryScott's picture

Let's see. 'Barbie' is made by Mattel, right? Well, made under LICENSE from Mattel, somewhere in a slaveworker sweatshop factory in the Chinese Mainland, anyway.

UM... 1n the 1960's, Mattel got a lucrative government contract to build all the plastic shit that was used on the old M-16 rifles that were cranked out by the millions (in their big plant right off the 405 Freeway [on the south side] in the South bay of L.A.; about two miles before it makes the curve north to L.A.X.; in the city of either Lawndale or Hawthorne, if I'm not mistaken).

I bet you didn't know this 'fun fact'.

Hell, TRW's headquarters is right in the neighborhood as well (remember the movie 'The Falcon And The Snowman'? It was based on a TRUE STORY). 'TRW' is the intitals of the last names of the three guys that started up this 'electronics' firm (Thomson, Ramo, and Woolrich). Of course, they make ALL KINDS of other neat M.I.C. stuff nowadays.

"When does this crap end?"

HELL, I was waiting for all the peace-loving hippies to boycott MATTEL when the info became PUBLIC in the early '70's. 

Don't hold your breath.



kchrisc's picture

Remember, in Orwell's 1984 the children are used as informants against their parents, and other adults.

"Now Sarah, we need you to 'store' your dollie in mommie and daddie's room. Can you do that for us?"

The banksters need to repay us.

logicalman's picture

Managed to keep my kids away from Facebook and Twitter. Wasn't easy, but now they get it (20 & 21)

 

kchrisc's picture

Even Orwell didn't imagine a self-creating dossier "service."

I would bet that there is already a database that maintains, in real-time, a FEMA "relocation" list from FaCIAbook data.

The banksters need to repay us.

czarangelus's picture

meh, it's already too late assholes. Big Brother knows absolutely everything you've ever jacked off to.

logicalman's picture

Not if you keep your porn as hard copy!

 

 

 

MontgomeryScott's picture

Oh, yes,

I'd like to purchase this copy of 'Hustler' magazine. Here, let me swipe my debit card...

TODAY'S LESSON: ALWAYS buy porn magazines with cash. Better still, save the ads for the girls on the sidebars of ZH on your computer, and print the pics (shit, won't work either).

Ghostdog's picture

Good thing Pedophillia has been eradicated....

MontgomeryScott's picture

Thank GOD!

I am safe, once again, to put on the Telly to the BBC:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1w85qMqIjs

 

Schacht Mat's picture

This promises to be revelational - let's see now - the child plays with the doll for about 20 minutes and then chucks it into a pile of other toys, upon which the microphone button becomes continually depressed as a result of the bowling ball lying on top of it, and all of the discussions and other activities that the parents are having in the family room are transmitted to NSA-ATTEL, at least until the battery drains and the child asks to have them recharged / changed out.

What can possibly go wrong here - according to the NSA - nothing wrong here - everything is working precisely as planned (hell, perhaps they can auto engage the doll at any time they wish, and then blame it on the bowling ball ....)

tarabel's picture

 

 

All in favor of getting up a collection to buy the Norks a delivery system that will reliably reach California, say Aye.

All opposed, here's your new Barbies.

are we there yet's picture

If a Christianson Grey doll could talk, then Barbie could have a whole new set of accessories.

rrhandle's picture

Rumor has it she is thinking of dumping Ken for Snowden

Bemused Observer's picture

If I still had young kids, and any of them started having deep convos with a doll, I might be worried.
And if I felt I had reason to suspect said doll was transmitting the convos to someone else, I'd feel the need to rip out said doll's 'mechanism'...Of course my kids were raised right...they knew the proper role of toys in their world, and would have eagerly helped me to 'dissect' the offending doll.
No, my kids never kept their toys in the original boxes (to enhance collector value), or used them for their intended purposes. They understood that the best use for something like the Easy Bake Oven was NOT to make the stupid pretzels, but to see what ELSE you could 'cook' in there.
Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars were not to be put on a shelf, but to be loaded with firecrackers and set alight. Baseball cards weren't fussed over and put in plastic cases, but threaded through bike wheel spokes...
Good luck to anyone hoping to spy on any kids I raised through their toys.

chopd livr's picture

imagine a hack into the system...now that the doll is the child's only and best friend, since the parents bought the doll to simulate interaction w (formerly called parenting) the kid anyway... "barbie would like you to kill your daddy"...

Slazenger's picture

Can they just stop already with playing these games, and ask us upfront to willingly give up ALL our liberties and become puppets!! I mean this is getting ridiculous.

Chuck Knoblauch's picture

Wi-Fi in children's toys will destroy their DNA.

Making them infertile.

are we there yet's picture

What if Barbie dolls are artificially intelligent and only pretending to be cute and dumb to get Ken.