Mattel, best known for Hot Wheels cars and Barbie dolls, has abandoned plans to launch a high-tech baby monitoring device citing privacy concerns. Dubbed as Aristotle smart Hub, the monitoring device was expected to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Mattel’s Chief Technology Officer, Sven Gerjets, joined the firm in July, and thereafter, he had been monitoring the development of Aristotle. A spokeswoman for Mattel told The Washington Times that he decided that the gadget did not “fully align with Mattel’s new technology strategy.”
Mattel showed Aristotle, launched under its Nabi brand, in January this year. It was marketed as a tool for parents “to protect, develop, and nurture the most important asset in their home—their children.”
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The Mattel Aristotle speaker had the digital functionality of Amazon Echo with a connected camera used for monitoring the baby. However, Aristotle was designed to be much more involved with the babies. According to Mattel, Aristotle would be smart enough to recite stories, soothe the babies when they cry and even make them learn ABCs. Mattel Aristotle was also supposed to get the Microsoft Machine learning technologies to answer human voices. Further, the gadget also had e-commerce functionality, allowing to reorder baby products.
CNET, who happened to see the earlier version of Mattel Aristotle, said that although the device worked good, privacy concerns remained. Mattel’s decision to end Aristotle was welcomed by all those who opposed the device. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) petition saw 20,000 signatures of those not happy with the device as it collected excessive data about the kids.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Jennifer Radesky, a pediatrician, said that another concern with Aristotle is that Robots are going to be the most responsive member in the house, affecting the growth of the child.
United States politicians also raised concerns over the data gathered by the device, and wanted the company to come up with more details about the device. In a letter sent to Mattel last month, Senator Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas said, “This new product has the potential to raise serious privacy concerns as Mattel can build an in-depth profile of children and their family.” Further, the letter read that there has not been any device before Aristotle that monitors the life of the child so intimately.
Earlier, Mattel also declared that Aristotle would be integrated with “COPPA compliance mind” something that a Federal Trade Commission wants the company to comply with for protecting the privacy of children, notes Fortune. Despite all the arrangements, Mattel it seems failed to convince the lawmakers and activists about the safety of their device.
Smart devices devised for kids have become a major concern for people as they still do not know the effects that these devices can have on the emotional development of kids. The Barbie doll that would remember the previous conversation was also not received well in the markets amid privacy concerns of the kids.