Alexa, tell me who’s smartest at speech

Like any cosmopolitan woman, Barbie changes with the times. Since she first showed up in 1959, the iconic blonde has gone through more than 100 incarnations, from rapper to biochemist, astronaut to president of the US.

So there should be no surprise that in 2017, the year Amazon’s Echo took off and our machines started talking back to us like never before, her next appearance will be as a talking hologram.

By Christmas, the $300 (£230) holo-Barbie will hit toy store shelves. She will be able to hold a conversation “for hours and hours”, according to Oren Jacob, the creator of the toy’s speech system.

This is no small feat. Jacob, founder of San Francisco computer conversation start-up PullString, said: “A child aged three, or five, or seven sounds utterly different. The words they choose, how they speak and how they sound are not the same.”

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Mike Rawson

Mike Rawson has recently re-awoken a long-standing interest in robots and our automated future.

He lives in London with a single android – a temperamental vacuum cleaner – but is looking forward to getting more cyborgs soon.

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Alexa, tell me who’s smartest at speech

by Mike Rawson time to read: 1 min
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