The newly announced internet-connected “Hello Barbie” (see video clip below) may be every girls’ dream but every parents’ nightmare.
The first-ever conversational doll (developed by ToyTalk in partnership with Mattel) will chat with the kids, record their conversations and transmit the recorded data to servers to be analyzed… and yes, risk being hacked and abused by pedophiles.
Think about it, it has all the hacking ingredients for any tech savvy blokes: wi-fi connection, speech-recognition software, phone apps (for kids?!), two-way conversations with kids and cloud storage.
Not convinced? Consider this: these capabilities mean these Barbies can also eavesdrop and record any conversation within the four-walls. Not much difference from the internet-connected spying Samsung smart TV.
“It wouldn’t take much for a malicious individual to intercept either the wi-fi communications from the phone or tablet, or connect to the doll over Bluetooth directly. These problems aren’t difficult to solve; the manufacturer needs to check the phone application carefully to make sure it’s secure. They also need to check that any information sent by the doll to their online systems is protected,” reportedly according to Ken Munro, a security researcher at Pen Test Partners, who has previously warned about the vulnerabilities in another doll called Cayla which uses speech-recognition and Google’s translation tools.