Barely have hordes of grown-up kids finished playing with the new Amazon Echo they got for Christmas than news emerges of a version for kids from Mattel. Aristotle is a $300 voice-controlled personal assistant that works in a similar way to Echo, but is designed to live in a child’s room and respond to the child’s questions and commands, and to evolve with the child as it grows up.
According to a report in Fastco Design, Mattel is positioning Aristotle as a smart baby monitor. It has a camera that streams video through an encrypted connection to your phone but can also be triggered by the sound of a baby crying to soothe the child by playing a favourite song or to glow gently. An app enables the parents to preset exactly how long the baby is allowed to cry before Aristotle intervenes.
It also boasts tracking/monitoring capabilities for things like sleeping, feeding and nappy soiling, with the added ability to re-order new supplies. But according to Fastco’s interview with Mattel senior vice president, chief products officer Robb Fujioka, the device is designed principally for the child to use. As such, the child user must teach the device to recognise his or her voice by reciting a paragraph or two. Once the device understands the child, the child can ask it questions Alexa-style, or order it to play a game. The article also flags up the potential for Aristotle to make other non-interactive toys feel smarter or more connected via a combination of object and voice recognition.
"Our approach is not going to be one derivation of UI, but multiple approaches," said Fujioka.
The device is due to launch in June, and when it does surface, there should be no shortage of things to do with it, as Mattel’s partner network will be allowed to create content and applications for it. Mattel has already signed a deal that will put thousands of books on the platform.
If every home needs an Echo, or something similar, perhaps soon every child will feel their personal space needs an Aristotle.