We’ve said it here plenty of times — technology isn’t making it easy on kids. We’ve already seen the likes of Chevrolet introduce tracking tech that alerts parents to kids sneaking out with the car at night, and now we’ve got a smart home assistant that will give kids the business if they’re not polite enough.
Aristotle isn’t just a parental enforcer. Made by Mattel-owned company Nabi and revealed at CES in January, the smart speaker combines a lot of parental gadgets into one cylinder — a baby monitor, an ambient noise machine, a smart light, and a streaming security camera. Combined with a host of app features, Aristotle could prove useful for babies and preteens alike.
But, Aristotle definitely looks like it will be most useful for babies. That’s partly because of the basics — the HD camera that comes with the set gives parents access to live video and audio on a mobile device or computer as long as they have an internet connection — but smart features add a little more on top thanks to Microsoft Cognitive Services. Using Microsoft’s machine learning platform, Aristotle is smart enough to know when a baby is crying, for example. From there, it’s up to you. Using the companion app, parents can give Aristotle automated instructions — if baby starts crying, you can tell Aristotle to start playing a lullaby at low volume immediately. Because Aristotle can work with a host of third-party smart home devices like connected lights, you can have the device turn down the lights, too.
The app also has room for parents to track baby stats, like feeding times and diaper changes. It’s up to parents whether or not they want to embark on that kind of record keeping, but if they do, all of those events can be logged using voice commands, so it should prove much more convenient than writing everything down.
Kids can have fun with Aristotle, too. By saying Aristotle like you would say Alexa to get the attention of Amazon’s assistant, kids can ask Aristotle questions, which will be answered with the help of Microsoft Bing. Aristotle does have filters set up, just in case kids start asking the wrong questions. Kids can also play games with Aristotle, most of which will have an educational bent. Nabi also says that Aristotle is COPPA and HIPAA compliant, so it should keep information, including any medical information you might trust with it, secure.
Aristotle won’t just be bossed around, though. Kids will need to say please when interacting with Aristotle, or the smart speaker will refuse to respond the their queries or commands. That’s the sort of smart recognition that machine learning programs make possible, and it also means that Aristotle isn’t done growing — Nabi and parents alike can keep thinking of creative ways to use Aristotle’s smarts, and those ideas can either be programmed in using the app or pushed to the speaker in a software update.
It’s pretty cool, and parents who love tinkering with smart home gadgets will love it, but it’s really expensive for the average parent. It can be preordered now for $350 from Nabi or Babies ‘R’ Us, and while it comes with both the HD camera and the smart speaker unit, that’s an awful lot for something that is helpful, but not essential. The convenience of having all those parental gadgets in one device is nice, but even then, every device Aristotle replaces can be had for fairly cheap these days, aside from the machine learning tech. But, for anyone who has the cash and loves themselves some creative programming, there’s no doubt that Aristotle will be a welcome helping hand around the house.