Mattel brings artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things into the kids rooms

Mattel brings artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things into the kids rooms

Aristotle by Nabi

LAS VEGAS—Your infant starts crying, and instantly the room's baby monitor snaps into action. The lights come on. A soothing lullaby begins playing. Mom and dad get notifications on their smartphones.

That's just one of the scenarios Mattel sketched out for Aristotle by Nabi, a $299 voice-controlled smart baby monitor that the toymaker is announcing at CES.

With a major assist from Microsoft and Qualcomm, Mattel is using artificial intelligence, natural language interactions and Internet of Things technologies to create a cloud-connected platform for Junior’s nursery. Aristotle goes on sale in June.

From Amazon’s Alexa to the obedient helper inside Google Home, chatty AI-powered digital assistants have been steadily gaining a more prominent voice in kitchens, dens and living rooms across the country.

Mattel brings artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things into the kids rooms

Echo.

The once hot startup — for two years in a row Fuhu had been Inc.’s fastest growing private company — ended up filing for bankruptcy following a dispute with its Taiwanese supplier Foxconn. Long story short: Fuhu was acquired by Mattel around 13 months ago.

Fujioka points to other reasons why the nursery of the future was put on hold. One was security, the other complexity—making the products easy enough to use was hard, and Fujioka says some of the technologies he wanted to tap into were still in their early stages.

He now believes all the pieces are elements are coming together. The voice controlled Aristotle hub bundle consists of a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct speaker with multi-colored LED lights, and Wi-Fi camera with object recognition. The company is employing 256-bit encryption through the cloud, and complying with COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act that aims to protect the privacy of children under 13.

Mattel brings artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things into the kids rooms

Google Home

Along those lines, Fujioka insists Mattel is not looking to compete against the most prominent digital assistants.

“We think that Google Home and Alexa are fantastic devices. We don’t feel like we want to playing in that catch up of the skill set game,” Fujioka says. Instead, Mattel’s core focus is on education and nurturing kids as they mature.

So with toddlers, Aristotle might flash different colored lights with the child having to name the correct color. It might engage kids with sing-a-longs or reading them bedtime stories. And when your kids get into their tween years, Aristotle promises social networking integration or more sophisticated lessons, perhaps quizzing them on U.S. Presidents or helping them learn a foreign language.

Mattel says Nabi has already attracted dozens of third party partners including Silk Labs, BabyCenter, Little Pim, iHeartRadio, FEN Learning, and Tipitap, the idea being that a gaggle of child development/parenting advice, education, music, books and games content can be accessed through the Aristotle hub and corresponding Aristotle app.

And though Aristotle will carry the Nabi brand, you can expect Aristotle experiences to also incorporate Mattel’s most venerable toy properties, including Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels and Barbie.

Email: [email protected]; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter



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