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Internet of Things

Some smart toys are not smart enough

Smart toys should allow kids to step into the digital world in a playful manner. However, not all wirelessly networked toys are safe; TÜV Rheinland wants to make the selection process easier for parents with a seal of approval. Mattel meanwhile is abandoning a controversial project.

18 Oct. 2017

"How networked playmates sound children out" was the headline on Stiftung Warentest at the end of August. The test revealed some major security gaps in smart toys equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and connected to the Internet. Strangers were able to exploit unsecured Bluetooth connections to send messages to the children using the voice of the toy; in addition, personal data often reached third parties. Seals of approval, like the one developed by TÜV Rheinland, should help consumers identify which smart toys carry no such risks. Here, both the toy’s data transmission and how the manufacturer handles data are assessed.

Most likely for data privacy reasons, US toymaker Mattel is canceling its plans for the AI-based smart home hub "Aristotle", as reported on the US technology portal "The Verge" . As a networked loudspeaker with a camera, Aristotle was created to accompany children from babyhood, monitor them, read them bedtime stories, comfort them and later serve as a digital assistant, and even teach them the ABC. In the USA, signatures were collected against Mattel's digital nanny, warning against possible psychological damage to children.