Barbie Is a Hologram and Now Even Playtime Is Automated
Toy Fair starts this weekend, and Barbie is shaking up the doll aisle once again -- this time as a hologram.
Barbie’s landscape has gotten increasingly techie and not just because Mattel’s new president, announced last month, hails from Google. Barbie's line simply reflects the trends of the times. Last year’s show launched a smart home version of the Barbie Dreamhouse that let children play hands-free, with voice commands that turned on lights and appliances.
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In 2015, Mattel launched a talking Barbie. Thanks to Wi-Fi and voice-recognition technology, kids could hold down the doll’s belt buckle, ask a question into a microphone in her necklace and have a conversation with the doll.
If that process seems uncomfortable for Barbie and not the ideal way to have any kind of meaningful chat, you’re not wrong. But thankfully, a new iteration could eliminate that awkwardness.
This year’s hologram acts as a much more stylish and kid-friendly version of Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Echo. As first reported in Wired, kids can use the phrase “Hello, Barbie” to chat with the doll and get her 2-D projection to do the usual things we ask our AI-powered assistants to do these days, such as tell us the weather or set an alarm.
It’s a massive step forward, and not just because kids won’t think they need to hold people in a vice-like grip just to ask them their favorite colors. In fact, this Barbie doesn't need to be held up by anyone at all. For the first time, kids can ask the doll to fix her own hair, sing her own songs and change her own darn outfits. In other words, this Barbie takes on some of the burden of playtime, freeing children from doing a 58-year-old woman’s chores.
It is a liberation. Mattel plans to release the toy this summer.