My Friend Cayla

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My Friend Cayla
Other namesCayla Doll
TypeDoll
InventorBob Delprincipe
CompanyGenesis Toys
CountryUnited States
Availability2014–present
SloganThe World's Best Talking Doll
Official website

My Friend Cayla is a children's doll which uses speech recognition technology in conjunction with Android OS or iOS to recognize the child's speech and have a conversation. The doll uses the internet to search what the child said which then answers with what it collected online.[1] My Friend Cayla was created by Bob Delprincipe, inventor of Cindy Smart and Tekno the Robotic Puppy. The doll is banned in Germany as an illegal surveillance device.[2]

Technology[edit]

Cayla functions by sending microphone inputs to an app on an iOS or Android (operating system) device via Bluetooth. The app then parses the speech into text and uses keywords to search the Internet for a response. The app translates the text back into speech and sends it back to the doll, who answers after around a one-second delay.

Cayla, operated by 3 AA batteries, also has a "personality", with a database containing details of her family, pets, her favorite food, pop star and film.

The creator of the doll, Bob Delprincipe, says: "She's not a search engine, she's a seven-year-old girl. There are some things she just doesn't know." And he argued that though there had been 'intelligent' toys before, there had never been an Internet-connected doll.[3]

Styles[edit]

Cayla is available in 3 styles: Blonde, Brunette and African American. The UK saw a limited release of a Princess Edition.[4]

Distribution[edit]

My Friend Cayla is distributed by Vivid in the UK.[5] Genesis is the US distributor.

Awards[edit]

The doll was named 2014 Innovative Toy of the Year by the London Toy Industry Association, and was a top 10 toy for all key European retailers this past holiday season. MY FRIEND CAYLA will become available to U.S. consumers in August 2015.[6]

In 2015 My Friend Cayla won Most Wanted Dolls of 2015 from TTPM (Toys, Tots, Pets & More)[7]

Controversy[edit]

Ken Munro of security firm Pen Test Partners claimed he hacked the doll, and demonstrated the hack in BBC World News Tech Tent program.[8][9] Tim Medin from Counter Hack also hacked the doll and let it respond with foul comments, although the hack required physical access to the object. "Cayla was basically the subject of a tech prank," said Peter Magalhaes, general manager of Cayla manufacturer Genesis.[10]

In February 2017 the German Federal Network Agency notified parents that they were obliged to "destroy" any Cayla in their possession as it constitutes a concealed espionage device violating the German Telecommunications Act.[2][11] The agency also considers the Bluetooth device as insecure, allowing connections to Cayla's speaker and microphone within a 10m radius.[2]

The doll has also been criticised by the Norwegian Consumer Council for allowing the use of the collected data from the child's speech for targeted advertisements and other commercial purposes and its sharing with third parties, as well as for hidden advertisements through the doll's positive statements about certain products and services.[12]

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating similar complaints over whether My Friend Cayla's upload of child speech constitutes an undue violation of privacy.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Got myself a living doll! Internet-enabled toy can chat with children".
  2. ^ a b c "German parents told to destroy Cayla dolls over hacking fears". BBC News. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Meet Cayla - the first Internet connected doll".
  4. ^ "My Friend Cayla - The doll you can talk to like a real friend!".
  5. ^ "Vivid Imaginations".
  6. ^ Genesis. "World's First Interactive Doll Makes North American Debut At Toy Fair 2015".
  7. ^ TTPM.com. "My Friend Cayla from Genesis Toys".
  8. ^ "Vivid Toy's 'Cayla' Talking Doll vulnerable to hacking says security researcher". 30 January 2015.
  9. ^ "What did she say?! Talking doll Cayla is hacked". BBC News. 2015-01-30. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  10. ^ "Hello Barbie: She's just insecure".
  11. ^ Versteckte Spionage: Spielzeug-Puppe "Cayla" laut Netzagentur verboten, heise.de, issued 17 February 2017
  12. ^ Tangen, Guro Birkeland. 2017. Cayla forbudt i Tyskland, på salg i Norge. Accesse 11 November 2017
  13. ^ Reilly, Patrick (February 18, 2017). "Privacy concerns threaten sales of hi-tech doll". Christian Science Monitor.

External links[edit]