While Amazon has been very successful in getting their Alexa service into 3rd party gadgets, Microsoft has been strong on announcements and very weak on delivery.
While we are still waiting for the Harman Kardon Invoke and HP’s Cortana speaker appears MIA, today we have news of a very specialized Cortana smart speaker which appears to have ended its journey before reaching the market.
Announced at CES 2017, Mattel’s new Aristotle smart home hub for kids and parents was powered by Microsoft Cognitive Services, and would have included Cortana Intelligence technology.
It incorporated a smart light system that adjusts to serve as a night light, reading light and changing light, and includes support for Wink, Wemo, Smart Things, Philips Hue, ZigBee and IFTTT among others, to enable a range of other features. It includes the ability to detect when a baby cries and automatically play a lullaby or turn the lights on low.
The camera did not just let parents keep an eye on their child, but also gave it the ability to identify objects—a flashcard for instance—or add new functionality like providing a voice for an otherwise lifeless doll, or engage in learning sessions with children.
It would have automatically recognizes when a baby wakes up, and sooth them to sleep with a lullaby, white noise, a favorite song or a night light, recognizes and answers young kids’ questions, teach children manners and much more.
It was exactly these powerful interactive AI features which got the device in trouble.
A petition by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, asking Mattel not to release the Aristotle gained more than 15,000 signatories. Senator Edward J. Markey and Representative Joe Barton have also come out against the device and the data it collects in routine usage, sending Mattel a letter asking how they would protect children’s privacy.
Pediatrician Jennifer Radesky, author of the American Association of Pediatrics’ 2016 media guidelines for children aged zero to six-years-old complained “My main concerns about this technology — apart from the privacy concerns that [Markey and Barton] are trying to address — is the idea that a piece of technology becomes the most responsive household member to a crying child, a child who wants to learn, or a child’s play ideas.”
Mattel eventually cracked, and in a statement to the Washington Post said the Aristotle, did not “fully align with Mattel’s new technology strategy” and would not be “[brought] to the marketplace.”
The device was due to incorporate a wide range of Microsoft technologies including Microsoft Azure IoT Hub and IoT Stream Analytics, Cortana Intelligence, with Speech to Text, LUIS, CRIS and Text to Speech functionality, and it is likely that the very niche product would have found quiet success due to its very specialized feature set.
Read more about what could have been in our last article on the device here.
via The Verge