The Internet of Things has expanded to include toys, with a number of high-profile smart toys on the way, led by the iconic Barbie, according to a BBC News article. The toys feature internet-connected artificial intelligence systems allowing them to have conversations with kids.
The upcoming smart Barbie doll, called Hello Barbie, is the product of a collaboration between toy maker Mattel and tech startup ToyTalk. The toy uses a mic, speaker, and LEDs built into its necklace, and can be connected online via wifi. It’s designed to learn over time, adapting its conversation to the interests of its playmates.
Hello Barbie isn’t alone, though. Many other smart toys are coming to the market, and one, a toy developed by Vivid Toy group, already came out last November. That toy – Cayla – also uses speech recognition technology to have vocal interactions with kids. Disturbingly, though, a security researcher discovered a vulnerability last month that would allow hackers to make the toy say whatever they wanted.
If all of this sounds a bit creepy, it kind of is. Security experts have been warning for a while now about the dangers associated with the new vulnerabilities that the Internet of Things is going to present, and smart toys will be no exception. It’s possible that more advanced security measures such as biometric solutions could be extended in some way to help secure smart toys, but there will also need to be a certain level of parental vigilance as these connected automatons march into living rooms, playpens and cribs.