You’ll probably remember Hello Barbie from last year, if for no other reason than she seemed to make a bunch of people really mad. Well, the quasi-cyborg Barbie of last year wasn’t at the 2016 New York Toy Fair last weekend, but Mattel hasn’t given up on the Hello thing. This year, they brought along the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse, giving Barbie her very own smart home — yes, it even has voice control.
The Hello Dreamhouse seems to be a bit more tame in terms of speech recognition than Hello Barbie herself. Speech recognition is mostly there for controlling some of the features of the house, which can also be triggered by floor switches that Barbie can stand on. Each room has a different effect — there are lights in the bedroom, a shower that can turn on in the bathroom, and a stove and oven that can come to life in the kitchen. There’s even an elevator in here than can move on its own!
Commands are issued with “Hello Dreamhouse,” but it sounds like there is plenty of room for natural language past that. During the demo, the house could pick up bits about getting ready for school and making breakfast, which would turn on the shower or the stove and oven, respectively. That means the house is only ever activating those few effects, but allowing for the use of natural language makes it a lot better for imaginative play — wouldn’t be very fun if kids had to just repeat the same lines over and over!
Voice commands can also be used to change house modes — the default is hangout mode, but there are also house party and fun house modes. We got to see house party mode, and it was pretty rocking — music started playing, lights started flashing, and the light-up chandelier jumped into action and started spinning, disco ball-style. There’s also Wi-Fi connectivity, which kids can use along with a smartphone app to customize those lights and sounds to their liking.
The Barbie Hello Dreamhouse, like any smart home, won’t be cheap. It’ll arrive in toy stores this fall with a $300 price tag.