Today’s toy market exhibits an era of smart technological toys as artificial intelligence and connected tech is being used to create more interactive and stimulating plays for children. Hello Barbie has recently been announced as a talking toy developed to join My Friend Cayla in a product makeover for traditional toys. Hello Barbie and My Friend Cayla are learning dolls that allow children to speak to the toy and receive answers. Interactive smart toys are a trend taking over the industry as companies move away from pre-formed recordings to informal two-way conversations allowing children to gain unique relationships with their toys.
Vivid’s Cayla doll uses speech recognition and Google translation tools as a smart upgrade to a classic doll. Mattel’s Hello Barbie will allow children to speak to the doll in real time, ask questions and hear jokes. The doll is expected to retail at £49 and will have features allowing the doll to listen to a child’s conversation and refer to it at a later stage. For example, if a child mentions that they enjoy dancing, the doll will refer to this fact at a later stage, just as humans have conversations.
In order to interact, the Hello Barbie doll will need to be connected to Wi-Fi and the doll will listen to children through a chest mounted micand speaker. These interactive upgrades are allowing a new age take on traditional toys. Although Barbie is 56 years old to date, Hello Barbie will allow the brand a well needed update, moving from a traditional toy to a tech toy.
Traditional play is increasingly enhanced to match today’s digital advancements. The age of children being connected to technology is lowering and these talking toys can be seen as the industry’s answer to connecting traditional toys with technology, keeping the toy market fresh, innovative, evolving and adaptable. However, will these internet connected toys lead to greater risk to children accessing harmful content online? Are these technological toys taking away from imaginative traditional play?
On the whole, I believe that the growing number of talking toys are a great addition to the traditional toy market and that they allow children to play with a doll in a technologically advanced way as well as in a traditional way; allowing children to learn through technology and play in traditionally imaginative ways. I think this is a bold move in the right direction from Mattel particularly with Barbie being so iconic and having such a vast history.