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Barbie’s ‘Dreamhouse’ gets smart home makeover in hi-tech push

Barbie’s push into the Internet of things is building with the reveal of hi-tech version of her signature ‘Dreamhouse’ and a drone.

The connected toy was shown to Mashable yesterday (13 February) at this year’s Toy Fair in New York City, sporting a myriad of gadgets and a virtual assistant.

Fans can issue a variety of instructions to the home, including telling it to give Barbie a ride in the elevator or requesting the virtual oven be switched on as well as asking for the lights to be changed in order to alter the mood. For example, the lights react to the order “Hello Dreamhouse. Turn on the bedroom light”. Similar to the Philips Hue smart light bulbs, fans can customise the shades and colours, as well as set the house to a range of pre-set modes of play such as ‘fun’, ‘hangout’ and ‘party’, all of which will have different sounds and features that will respond when played with or controlled via the accompanying app.

Mattel told Mashable that the ‘Dreamhouse’ would get smarter over time the more it’s played with.

The connected version of Barbie’s ‘Dreamhouse’ comes a year after the debut of a smart version of the doll, which was kitted out with virtual assistant-style program that allowed kids to have actual conversations with it. Despite the technological feat, the doll was criticised after security researchers warned that hackers could appropriate it to spy on children could use it.

A hoverboard drone that actually hovers has also been created for the doll and is controlled using a remote control.

Mattel’s decision to make the popular toy more technologically advanced stems from the need to plug declining sales. Barbie sales dipped four years in a row going into 2015, and the business has spoken in great length recently about the challenges it faces reframing the iconic brand for modern kids. To that end, it launched a new range of curvier and darker versions of Barbie to move the brand past traditional general stereotypes

Seb Joseph

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