Mattel is giving Barbie a smart home. The international toymaker unveiled the voice-controlled Hello Dreamhouse for Barbie dolls on Saturday at the New York Toy Fair. Connected to the internet via Wi-Fi, the toy set can allow kids to control several aspects of the house via voice commands, such as turning on the lights or operating the elevator. This isn’t the first time Mattel has dabbled with voice-command toys. Last September, it debuted a new line of Barbie dolls named “Hello Barbie” with speech-recognition and basic conversational skills, which later drew some privacy concerns from parents.
In addition, Mattel also embraced some other emerging technologies, launching the $40 VR View-Master 2.0 that’s compatible with Google Cardboard content, as well as the $299 ThingMaker 3D-printer, a system that allows kids and their parents to print action figures and other DIY toys via an app.
What Brands Need To Do
The new voice-controlled Barbie house serves naturally as a line extension of the conversational Hello Barbie dolls, reaffirming Mattel’s belief in the future of interactive toys. For marketers, the quickening development of such conversational interfaces, which allow users to interact with computers via natural language, presents new challenges and opportunities in reaching consumers.
For more information on how brands can develop authentic brand voices and navigate the new interface, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.
Toymaker Mattel has announced a partnership with Amazon to create four live-action specials based on its American Girl dolls. Amazon may also produce a new kids series starring those dolls if the specials prove successful with the audience on Amazon Prime. This is not the first time a streaming service has ventured into kids content. Last year, Amazon Studios greenlit six pilots of kids programs, while Netflix expanded its kids content lineup with three new original series last week. Similarly, HBO struck a deal with Sesame Street for an exclusive window on new episodes last year.
What Brands Need To Do
Today, consumers have increasing options to avoid ads across all media types. It is getting harder for brands to reach their audiences when content consumption has shifted away from traditional TV to ad-free subscription services. This Mattel-Amazon deal provides a great example in how brands can develop branded content via partnerships with content creators to reach audiences that are otherwise unreachable.
Header image courtesy of americangirl.com
Interactive toys are nothing new on the market, but how about a Barbie doll that can actually hold a conversation with your kids? Earlier this week, toy manufacturer Mattel Inc. debuted a new line of Barbie named “Hello Barbie” with speech-recognition and basic conversation skills. Connected to Wi-Fi, the new Barbie uses ToyTalk’s patent technology to analyze speech and produce relevant responses. Moreover, for monitoring purposes, parents can use an accompanying mobile app to listen to or delete the conversations.
What Brands Should Do
Technologies in speech recognition and artificial intelligence are still far from perfect. As they continue to improve, conversational UI may one day replace keyboards and touch screens as our primary means of communicating with electronic gadgets. Instead of forcing humans to adapt to methods of communicating that are easy for computers to understand, we are finally building computers that can understand the way humans have evolved to communicate. The sooner brands are on board with this trend by testing which ways it works best, the better.
For more information on how brands and content owners can make use of the conversational UI, speech or text-based, click here to read our in-depth Fast Forward analysis on Facebook M.
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