Mattel Cancels Baby-Monitoring Smart Hub Amid Privacy Concerns

October 5, 2017, 10:09 PM UTC

Mattel is shelving plans for a high-tech baby-monitoring device amid privacy concerns.

The toy maker, known for Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars, said Wednesday that it was killing its upcoming Aristotle smart hub that works similar to web-connected speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The company told The Washington Post that new executives like chief technology officer Sven Gerjets, who joined the company in July, reviewed the gadget and determined that it did not “fully align with Mattel’s new technology strategy.”

Mattel (MAT) first showed off the device in January during the annual Consumer Electronics trade show in Las Vegas and pitched it as a way for parents “to protect, develop, and nurture the most important asset in their home—their children.” The Aristotle smart hub contained a Wi-Fi-connected camera, microphone, speaker, and lighting system that could do things like automatically dim the lights when it hears a child cry or recognize when diapers are low.

Microsoft’s machine-learning technologies were supposed to help the device recognize and respond to human voices and “learn patterns and autonomously act upon user habits to aid in child development and learning,” according to a press release.

Mattel previously said that the device was built with “COPPA compliance in mind,” a reference to a Federal Trade Commission rule intended to protect the privacy of children.

However, several privacy activists and lawmakers were dissatisfied with Mattel’s claim. A consortium of pediatricians, academics, and privacy advocates sent Mattel a letter this week urging the company to sell the device as planned.

“Young children shouldn’t be encouraged to form bonds and friendships with data-collecting devices,” the letter said. “Aristotle will make sensitive information about children available to countless third parties, leaving kids and families vulnerable to marketers, hackers, and other malicious actors.”

The Washington Post also noted that Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) also sent Mattel a letter questioning the company about its data-gathering practices.

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Mattel’s cancellation of its latest toy comes at a time when the company is undergoing a technological transformation under new CEO Margo Georgiadis, a former Google executive. Georgiadis joined Mattel earlier this year a little after the company announced the Aristotle smart hub.

The now-abandoned Aristotle smart hub exemplifies the rise of voice-activated web-connected devices like Amazon (AMZN) Echo that learn to adapt and respond to their owners.

Although devices like the Echo and Google Home are intended to be used by adults to answer questions or changing music, big tech companies are also debuting features for children to make them useful for entire families. For example, Google (GOOG) said this week that it had partnered with Disney (DIS) on a new Google Home feature in which its voice-activated Google Assistant will read Disney-themed stories to children.

Fortune contacted Mattel for more information and will update this story if it responds.

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