One of the things about parenthood that I’m most excited for is reading bedtime stories to my son after he’s born this April. I’ve already started a book collection and can’t wait to end my day reading to him. But now, according to an article from The Verge, I don’t have to read stories to my little man. I can just let the newest digital home assistant do it for me.
Let’s get you up to speed on the latest device from Mattel, which is being called the “Alexa for kids” (referencing the Amazon Echo voice-controlled home speaker assistant).
It’s a $300 Wi-Fi Bluetooth speaker named Aristotle that will read bedtime stories to your kids, play games with them and even answer their questions. You don’t even have to shop for kids either, thanks to Ari’s ability to operate like Amazon’s Alexa and order stuff for you online. It even functions as a baby monitor, The Verge reports, and will use “object recognition to interact with its environment” in addition to other Mattel toys.
Another key selling point? Ari should be able to understand your child much better than the other digital home assistants on the market (like Alexa who can’t seem to comprehend this child’s request). However, The Verge adds, “Mattel says children will need to read the assistant a test paragraph in order for it to learn to recognize their voice, but it remains to be seen if this adaptation will be enough to stop frustrating interactions between children and robots.”
So, there’s one potential glitch. Security could be another concern. Could this household item be hacked like some of the baby monitors on the market – or even like Mattel’s Wi-Fi-enabled Hello Barbie doll?
Glitches aside, I’m sure some parents are excited for this product but I am not one of them.
Our parents didn’t need all this technology to raise us. They read us our bedtime stories, played games with us and answered our questions. Beyond that, they provided actual human contact, affection and love. These are things a machine cannot provide. Sure, this product can read to your child, but it will not hold him while it reads, it will not use silly voices for different characters or turn the pages for your child to see the illustration on the next page.
And that’s really what saddens me about some of our technological advances – even if many of them are wonderful for parents. We’re forgetting that reading bedtime stories isn’t just about the act of reading words on a page. It’s about connecting with your child after a long day. Why wouldn’t you want to do that?
What do you think of this product? Would you purchase it or are you in my camp? Share your thoughts in comments.