Mattel Aristotle Is An AI That Grows With Your Child

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If you have a hard time understanding the speech of any toddlers besides your own, you're certainly not alone, and that's part of the reason that Mattel is working on a smart speaker device called Aristotle. Billed as a "smart baby monitor", Aristotle carries an AI and feature set made to grow and develop with your child. It's an AI-packed speaker, much like Google Home or Amazon Echo, but also features a camera, and an AI geared toward kids. Not only is it made to understand the voices of children, it's made to soothe fussy babies, help with homework, and generally help kids out in some of the key ways comparable products help adults; by providing knowledge and entertainment.

A big feature of the device is individual voice training, which essentially allows it to pick up on your child's intonation and enunciation quirks just as well as you do. While a toddler spitting endless questions at a device and actually getting answers or an angry baby being calmed down are already great selling points for the $300 device, Mattel senior vice president Robb Fujioka alludes that Aristotle is destined for a much wider variety of tasks, saying that the company "spent a lot of time investing in how it would age." The AI backend is powered in part by Microsoft's Cortana, in concert with the Bing search engine, making the device plenty suitable for a child's queries about which superhero would win in a fight, and a middle schooler's questions about the characteristics of different types of igneous rock, along with various other functions like playing LED light games and teaching pre-kindergarten basics like letters and numbers.

On the parents' side of things, Aristotle is incredibly flexible. Parents can program it, for example, to only begin emitting colors and sounds to soothe a baby who has carried on crying for ten minutes or so, to help with training overly fussy babies to sleep. Once they're actually asleep, Aristotle can track and monitor that sleep, as well as track wet diapers and other things parents and pediatricians would do well to know. An adult mode is also featured, which enables Alexa functionality. The user can, of course, disable Alexa in child mode to prevent orders of candy and toys mysteriously showing up on a bank statement, and can talk to and program the Aristotle AI while in adult mode. Aristotle's monitoring and swath of retail partners on top of the relationship with Amazon allow for things like noticing that diapers or wipes need to be replenished, and asking if more should be ordered. To keep things securely in the family unit, Aristotle features 256 bit encryption. If all goes according to plan, parents will be able to get their hands on an Aristotle unit for their child's room in June of 2017.

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