from the wahhhhhhhh dept.
Mattel will not sell an all-in-one voice-controlled smart hub / baby monitor, setting back the state of parenting by decades or even millennia:
Toymaker Mattel has shelved plans to build an "all-in-one voice-controlled smart baby monitor," after complaints about the device were raised by privacy advocates and child psychologists. According to a report from The Washington Post, the company said in a statement that the device, named Aristotle, did not "fully align with Mattel's new technology strategy" and would not be "[brought] to the marketplace."
Aristotle was unveiled back in January this year by Mattel's Nabi brand. It combined the smart speaker and digital assistant functionality of Amazon's Echo with a connected camera that acted as a baby monitor. But the Aristotle was intended to be a much more active presence in children's lives than an Echo speaker, with Mattel claiming it would read them bedtime stories, soothe them if they cried in the night, and even teach them their ABCs.
Mattel also appointed a new chief financial officer.
Related: Amazon Declares War on YouTube by Launching Amazon Video Direct
Barbie Typewriter Toys Had a Secret Ability to Encrypt Messages — but They Didn't Think Girls Would
Amazon Dominates Voice-Controlled Speaker Market
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Amazon unveiled a service that allows users to post videos and earn royalties from them, putting a big bulls eye on Alphabet's YouTube.
The service, called Amazon Video Direct, will make the uploaded videos available to rent or own, to view free with ads, or be packaged together and offered as an add-on subscription.
Amazon will pay content creators 50% of the revenue earned from rental receipts or sale of the videos, according to the company's license agreement. For ad-supported videos, the creators will get half of the net ad receipts.
Amazon's fast-growing Prime loyalty program already offers original TV programming and access to digital entertainment products such as Prime Music and Prime Video, as well as one-hour delivery of purchases, for an annual fee of $99.
YouTube offers a free, ad-supported service as well as a $10-per-month subscription option called YouTube Red. Amazon, though, has a long way to go to catch up with YouTube, the go-to venue for video on the internet since 2005.
Users of Amazon's service will be able to make their videos available in the US, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom. and Japan. The company has also signed up several partners for the service, including Conde Nast, the Guardian, Mashable and toymaker Mattel.
Amazon can throw a lot of money behind their new Video Direct service, but I don't know how well it will do. YouTube is pretty well thoroughly entrenched in the online video space.
Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd
In 1998, Slovenian toy company Mehano designed a line of children's electronic typewriter toys with the ability to write secret messages.
Eventually, the company licensed the typewriter to another company, (none other than Barbie herself), that had something altogether different in mind for the toys. Slathered in pink, it was soon headed to market to appeal "to girls."
[...] The four encryption modes — each featuring a simple alphabet substitution cipher (or 1-to-1 encoding) — were left out of Mattel's instruction manuals and advertisements. Mattel is Barbie's parent company. Even the latest model, produced in 2015, omitted this novel feature.
[...] It's an all-too-common marketing assumption that continues to plague the "pink aisle" of girls' toys. They often fail to encourage little girls to grow up to be engineers and scientists. A December report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology showed that boys were almost three times more likely to receive a STEM-themed toy for Christmas.
"STEM toys are by default for boys," says Meryl Alper, professor of communication studies at Northeastern University. "We have to add 'for girls.'" With over a decade of experience working in children's media at Northeastern, Sesame Workshop and Nick Jr., Alper emphasizes the importance of representation and diversity in characters and storylines. Playtime matters.
"Children use the objects in their world to think through ideas," she says. "If you have objects that signal to a kid that it's not for them, either explicit or implicit, you reduce that opportunity to learn through manipulation."
Amazon is dominating the voice-controlled speaker market, according to a new forecast from eMarketer out this morning. The maker of the Echo-branded speakers will have 70.6 percent of all voice-enabled speaker users in the U.S. this year – well ahead of Google Home's 23.8 percent and other, smaller players like Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon, and Mattel, who combined only account for 5.6 percent of users.
The new report backs up another from VoiceLabs released in January, which also found that Amazon was leading the voice-first device market, thanks to Echo's popularity.
While the market itself is not expected to be a winner-take-all scenario, competitors like Amazon and Google will win entire homes, as most consumers have said they wouldn't consider buying a competing device once they already own one voice-controlled speaker.