While Samsung, Nest and others are trying to force smart home technology on us without too much success; Barbie has happily moved into her Wi-Fi enabled, next-generation dreamhouse. She also got herself a hoverboard.
Barbie gets a smarthouse?
At the 2016 International Toy Fair in New York, Mattel recently unveiled its tech-enabled Dreamhouse for Barbie 56 years after the iconic doll was first introduced and over fifty years from the introduction of Barbie’s first Dreamhouse.
The house is built so that kids can control the lights, appliances, music and the elevator all with their voice. Like the internet-connected Barbie, the new Hello Barbie Dreamhouse is also connected to Wi-Fi. The house was built by Mattel in partnership with ToyTalk which provides the voice recognition technology to both the house and to Barbie.
Kids playing with the Dreamhouse simply need to start their command with, “Hello Dreamhouse.”
Hello Dreamhouse, bring the elevator down,” “Hello Dreamhouse, turn the bedroom lights on” are each acceptable commands.
Vaguer commands are also used, a child can say “it’s time for school,” and the house will answer in Barbie’s voice with “We’d better get going!,” the house responds, “shower’s on!” At that point both the light in the shower goes on and the sound of running water emanates from the house.
The smart Dreamhouse does not come cheap at $299.
The Hello Barbie Dreamhouse ships with three pre-set house modes which are, “hangout mode,” “dance party mode,” and “fun house mode.”
An additional mode is made possible by using the Hello Dreamhouse mobile app for iPhone and Android, which allows kids to change all of the houses settings like music and colored lights. When kids are taking Barbie through the house, floor sensors automatically turn the lights on in whatever room she happens to be in at the moment.
And she gets a hoverboard?
At the same show, Mattel introduced a hoverboard for Barbie that is also a drone for your child to play with and might very well provide more fun than a static, albeit smart, Dreamhouse.
The hoverboard will retail for $59.99 when it goes on sale along with the Dreamhouse in the fall of this year. The drone is controlled by a joystick and has one-button take off and landing capabilities.
“This will certainly attract young girls, but also parents who want to buy a toy for their daughters that would interest them in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) realm but aren’t sure what type of toy would inspire that,” said Rhianna Lakin, founder of the group Amelia Dronehart, a group for female drone pilots.