Lilian Min
February 19, 2017 12:05 pm

Barbie remains one of the most enduring and iconic toys in existence. Those dolls are instantly recognizable to pretty much all folks, regardless of gender. But she, like the rest of us, can’t just stay the same as we head into a deeply digital future.

Mattel first rolled out the talking Hello Barbie in 2015. The toy’s capacity for recording conversations, as well as some tech issues, left consumers wary.

But Mattel is testing the AI model once again with their new toy: Hello Barbie Hologram.

Mattel’s exhibit at the American International Toy Fair marks the hologram’s first debut. Well, actually, a video of the hologram. Perhaps wary of bringing the product out for preview before it’s ready, Mattel showed Barbie responding to a variety of voice commands. The results are kind of uncanny: If Amazon’s Alexa looked like a traditional doll and just wanted to be your friend. (But unlike other tech products, the hologram’s voice recordings will be encrypted for child safety.)

By saying “Hello Barbie,” users (or, okay, just kids) will be able to “activate” the hologram. Then you can change her outfits; set an alarm; use her as a night light; play music. The range of functionality is, of course, wider than most dolls’. The question remains, will parents bite? And, are AIs and holograms really the end-all of the tech-ification of our everyday lifestyles?

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