Yes, after pulling herself out of her 1950's rutas a swimsuit model to become everything from a doctor, lawyer, computer scientist, astronaut and even the president of the United States, Barbie has now become a 3D-animatedhologram that canserve up the weather on command.
As first reported in Wired, The Hello Barbie Hologram debuted at the New York Toy Fair this week. And like the original Hello Barbie doll, her laser-beamed character combines motion-capture animation with peppy, Amazon Echo-like answers to your child's questions.
Need an alarm? Hello Barbie. Want a nightlight? Hello Barbie. Want to remind your child to brush their teeth? Hello Barbie Hologram does that, too.Just turn her on with the wake phrase "Hello Barbie" to get her to do your bidding.
In other words, the supposed symbol for girls who "can do anything" really can become anything, including a personified bot.
Isn't that a bit...sexist? Some may balk at the suggestion a holographic female doll botserving up answers is somehow creating a gender imbalance. After all, you may say, it's just a doll combined with some cool technology. But, from what we know so far, there's no hologram Ken version and robots and artificial intelligence programs are often designated as female, particularly if they fulfill a subservient role. Helping you mind your schedule and answering questions about the weather fall neatly into that category.
It also undermines Barbie as a real person.She's a hologram assistant.
You'd think Mattel would be mindful here of how the latest version of Barbie may come across to impressionable young girls, given its many other missteps - including and especially in its foray into tech. We've written before about Barbie's foibles as a hilariously bad computer engineer who seemed to break everything she touched and didn't know how to code.
Barbie has also been criticized for maintaining unrealistic bodily proportions and putting a heavy emphasis on her appearance throughout the years. Some might say the Hello Barbie Hologram contributes in this regard, as well, by allowing anyone to change the look of the hologram by voice command.
Mattel has tried to counter some of its past criticisms with its "Imagine the Possibilities" advertising campaign last year, which shows a bunch of little girls doing grown ups' jobs. The final caption of the advertisement reads,"Whena girl plays with Barbie, she imagineseverything she can become."