Yes, after pulling herself out of her 1950’s rut as a swimsuit model to turn out to be everything from a medical doctor, lawyer, pc scientist, astronaut and even the president of the United States, Barbie has now turn out to be a 3D animated hologram that can serve up the weather, on command.
As first reported in Wired, The Hello Barbie Hologram debuted at the New York Toy Fair this week. And like the original Hello Barbie doll, her laser-beamed character combines motion-capture animation with peppy, Amazon Echo-like answers to your child’s concerns.
Require an alarm? Hello Barbie. Want a nightlight? Hello Barbie. Want to remind your kid to brush their teeth? Hello Barbie Hologram does that, too. Just turn her on with the wake phrase “Hello Barbie” to get her to do your bidding.
In other words, the supposed symbol for girls who “can do anything” really can turn into something, like a personified bot.
Isn’t that a bit…sexist? Some may possibly balk at the suggestion a holographic female doll bot serving up answers is somehow generating a gender imbalance. Right after all, you could say, it is just a doll combined with some cool technology. But, from what we know so far, there’s no hologram Ken version and robots and artificial intelligence applications are often designated as female, specifically if they fulfill a subservient function. Assisting you thoughts your schedule and answering concerns about the weather fall neatly into that category.
It also undermines Barbie as a real person. She’s a hologram assistant.
You’d think Mattel would be mindful right here of how the most current version of Barbie may possibly come across to impressionable young girls, offered its several other missteps — including and specifically in its foray into tech. We’ve written before about Barbie’s foibles as a hilariously undesirable computer engineer who seemed to break almost everything she touched and didn’t know how to code.
Barbie has also been criticized for maintaining unrealistic bodily proportions and placing a heavy emphasis on her appearance throughout the years. Some might say the Hello Barbie Hologram contributes in this regard, as well, by permitting any individual to alter the appear of the hologram by voice command.
Mattel has attempted to counter some of its previous criticisms with its “Imagine the Possibilities” advertising campaign last year, which shows a bunch of little girls performing grown ups’ jobs. The final caption of the advertisement reads, “When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can turn out to be.”
Difficult to say what a Barbie hologram would assist a small girl think about becoming, but hopefully it does not additional engender the stereotype that females are meant to be assistants to absolutely everyone else. Mattel might want to contemplate adding a Ken doll hologram or letting little girls discover how to program skills into the hologram in the future.
There’s also the query of privacy and security. Amazon Echo is constantly listening and, as it says in its FAQ, records a fraction of a second just before you say the wake word “Alexa.” Is Barbie now doing the very same, correct in your child’s bedroom? Mattel insists that, in contrast to Amazon, Barbie is not recording and uploading conversations to its servers. It also says Hello Barbie is heavily encrypted, meeting the Federal Trade Commission’s needs as outlined in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.
Hello Barbie Hologram is just a prototype for now, and it’s not clear when it may well be accessible for customers. We also don’t know the cost of the doll however, but it will likely fall on the pricier end, as these newer tech-focused toys tend to do. But, according to Mattel, it will probably be significantly less than $ 300 when the hologram makes her debut.