The week in gadgets: Toys that talk back, Halo motorbike helmet, and Apple Watch

23 Feb 2015

Hello Barbie doll image via Mattel

In this week’s gadget happenings, a new Barbie and a friendly dinosaur can now talk and learn with children, Halo fans and motorbike drivers unite, and Apple Watch may not be particularly useful.

Hello Barbie, goodbye privacy

With more products entering the market that listen to us and learn what we do, whether we know it is doing it or not, there is no surprise that toys are going to bear the focus of much of these advancements given children spend hours on-end talking to inanimate pieces of plastic.

So step forward the legendary Mattel and their iconic Barbie doll in her latest incarnation, Hello Barbie.

Costing US$74.99 (€66), Hello Barbie will be connected to the internet through a home’s Wi-Fi signal and over the space of an hour – the length of its battery duration – it will update with new stories and interactive games which it will say to the child.

It will also be actively listening to what the child is saying and, as the BBC suggests, could speak about dancing with the child if it hears that the child talks about liking to dance.

How attuned it will be to the child’s conversations remains to be seen as there is no release date as of yet for Hello Barbie, but this journalist certainly hopes she has moments similar to Malibu Stacy in The Simpsons.

Elemental Path’s huggable dinosaur

Harnessing the power of one of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet to create a huggable talking dinosaur might seem a little extreme, but the guys over at Elemental Path don’t seem to think so.

Known as the GreenDino, kids can have almost all their questions answered by pressing its tummy button and as they get older, it will provide more sophisticated answers.

The company have now gone to Kickstarter to raise the necessary US$50,000 to begin the cuddly toy’s initial production and are expected to cost somewhere in the region of US$99 (€87) when the first deliveries are expected this November.


Apple Watch ditching health tech?

You’d have to wonder what exactly the point of the Apple Watch will be if it has really decided to ditch its health monitoring sensors given that its Apple HealthKit was effectively launched with the Apple Watch in mind.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the watch’s technology was ruled out of development because of a rather odd reason, that being, that they tended not to work so well on dry skin or hairy arms.

There were even considerable discrepancies between how tight a person wore the watch.

The newspaper’s source however has said this doesn’t mean that it won’t appear on future models, but it certainly won’t be appearing in the first batch.


Halo Master Chief motorcycle helmet

Frankly, it’s amazing that this hasn’t existed before.

Line up, line up fans of the Halo gaming franchise who are also motorbike drivers as a new helmet designed by the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) in the US is giving people a chance to combine their two loves with an exact replica of Master Chief’s own helmet sported in the games, but for the rigours of the road.

Expected to launch in July, the helmet is not just for show as it has reportedly been given the go ahead by the US Department of Transportation as a road-legal safety helmet and includes a front-air intake to prevent fog build up and a UV screen to offer sun protection.

Whether it gives the driver super human bio-engineered strength remains to be seen.


Image via NECA

Toshiba’s Project Ara

Project Ara, commonly known as the ‘Lego phone’ because it is designed to be built by the user with different parts, has seen its latest addition with the help of Toshiba who have designed the phone’s first camera module, a 5MP camera, no-less.

Toshiba have been heavily involved in the Google-led project from the beginning and, according to Slash Gear, is leading much of the phone’s inner working including one of the members of its MIPI UniPro standards committee in charge of developing the protocol to be used by allowing Project Ara to communicate between modules.

Announcing “We did it!” in their announcement video, the company went on to confirm that they’re developing more modules for the phone including an enhanced 13MP camera, wireless charging capabilities, external memory and other capabilities.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic