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Mattel’s Echo lookalike could become your child’s first AI friend
You know Mattel: a multinational toy company that has manufactured some of your (and your kid’s) favorite toys. Well, the company’s new “toy” is like none other. The 300-dollar cylinder looks a lot like the Amazon Echo, but its virtual assistant can understand and interact with your toddler.
When Amazon first unveiled the Echo and Alexa who lives inside it, many were skeptical. But fast-forward a little bit, and now every company has an Echo of their own; ranging from Google to LG, a cylindrical virtual assistant is the next big thing, it seems. Mattel is no exception: the toy giant has unveiled a $300 Echo clone called Aristotle. What differentiates this from all the other smart cylinders out there? Mattel claims Aristotle is designed for toddlers and is designed to live in a child’s room.
What differentiates this from all the other smart cylinders out there? Mattel claims Aristotle is designed for toddlers and is designed to live in a child’s room.
While products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home may be able to answer your questions when asked in an adult and articulate manner, a toddler’s inquiries may just result in more frustration (especially for the child). That’s where Mattel’s Aristotle comes in. She can be trained to recognize your child’s voice, so your child isn’t always getting the “Sorry, I didn’t get that” message. As Robb Fujioka, senior vice president and chief products officer at Mattel, explains, Aristotle is a female virtual assistant who grows up with your child:
Aristotle is designed to be something far more specific than the generic voice assistants of today: a nanny, friend, and tutor, intended to both soothe a newborn and help a tween with their foreign language homework. It’s an AI to help raise your child.
Apart from answering your child’s questions and reading stories to them, Aristotle can also function as an advanced baby monitor. Parents can program her to play soothing music or emit different colored lights when she hears your baby crying. It’s also equipped with an Internet-connected camera, through which you can see what your baby’s up to.
The fortunate twist is that inside Aristotle lives Alexa.
The fortunate twist is that inside Aristotle lives Alexa. So Mattel’s product isn’t just capable of communicating with children but also has an advanced assistant for parents. For instance, it can log and track things like diapers and suggest that you buy more (and place an order for you). Essentially, Mattel’s cylinder’s split personality benefits both the parents and their kids. Mattel’s Aristotle isn’t available until June of this year, so we will have to wait and see whether all this works as well in real life. But it gives us a sense of what virtual assistants can do to facilitate and “smart-fy” child-rearing.