Mattel has scrapped a “smart home” device designed with kids in mind after awful reviews and privacy concerns.
“Aristotle” was first shown off at CES earlier this year. The red-and-white device is meant to be kept in a child’s room where its WiFi-enabled camera acts primarily as a voice-controlled baby monitor. It can adjust lighting levels, noting when babies wake up and then playing a lullaby or turning on a night light.
The device also claimed to be able to extensively interact with a young child. It can recognize and answer questions, play games, do singalongs, and teach the ABCs. Aristotle’s voice-interaction capabilities are intended to be like a kid-centric version of Amazon’s Alexa.
Last week, two members of Congress sent a letter (PDF) to Mattel about the device.
“Never before has a device had the capability to so intimately look into the life of a child,” wrote Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). “Consumers should know how this product will work and what measures Mattel will take to protect families’ privacy and secure their data.”
Instead of answering those questions, Mattel has withdrawn the product.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) sent Mattel a petition with 20,000 signatures expressing concern that not only could too much data be collected about kids, but that “essential caregiving functions,” like soothing a crying baby, would be effectively outsourced to robots.
“We commend Mattel for putting children’s wellbeing first and listening to the concerns of child development experts and thousands of parents who urged them not to release this device,” said Josh Golin, executive director of CCFC.
Mattel said in a statement that the kid-focused hub did not “fully align with Mattel’s new technology strategy.” The company also said that withdrawing the product was “part of an ongoing effort to deliver the best possible connected-product experience to the consumer.”