The 2015 version of the Barbie Dreamhouse was pretty rad. It had a slot that let you use a phone as a TV screen, a bay window that flips down and becomes a pool, plug-and-play appliances, and a roomy three-level floorplan. It’s hard to see how the next-gen BDH could improve, and savvy shoppers will likely scoff at the proposition of buying new real estate for their dolls after only a year.
But slow your roll and bust out your wallet, because Mattel’s new Barbie Hello Dreamhouse makes last year’s version seem like a rat-infested hovel. This mini-mansion is dope AF.
The 2016 version of Barbie’s ultimate crib is voice-controlled, and you can add your own custom sound effects to the home using a mobile app. Forget having to operate the elevator by hand like a dumbwaiter, because it’s voice-controlled and moves automatically now. You can also activate “silly mode” and have the toilet cluck like a dang chicken.
It’s what a real smart home should be: Straight crushing it with universal voice control instead of a hodgepodge of disparate appliances hogging up app space on your phone.
Smarter Than Your Home
The house needs a Wi-Fi connection and cloud-based speech recognition for those voice controls to work, sort of like an Amazon Echo. By saying “Hello Dreamhouse,” the home starts listening for your commands, and you can tell it to do more than 100 things.
Want to open or shut the door? Tell the house to do it for you. Want to turn the stairs into a slide? Hell yeah you do, just say the words. Say, man, would you like to throw a mermaid party? One with disco lights and delicious pretend baked goods for the guests? Just ask, bro. The future is served.
The speech-recognition features in the home and the app were developed by PullString, a company founded by a pair of former Pixar employees. According to Mattel and PullString, there are privacy measures built into the system to ensure it isn’t always listening.
When the house is connected to Wi-Fi, a light at the top of it indicates that it’s in listening mode, and nothing is recorded other than any commands that follow the “Hello Dreamhouse” activation phrase. There’s a sound-effects-only mode that works without Wi-Fi, and parents can delete any recorded data on PullString’s ToyTalk site.
The whole shebang costs $300, and it’ll be available this fall. Depending on how you look at it, that’s either ludicrously expensive for a toy or a crazy-good price for a home that’s way way way better than yours–even if the 2016 model doesn’t have a bay window that turns into a pool.