The first Alexa toy is a $ 300 kitchen for kids packed with dad jokes – CNET

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KidKraft manufactures the Alexa 2-in-1 Kitchen and Market, a $ 300 play set that interacts with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant (Echo not included).

KidKraft

Children can play with Alexa in their own $ 300 kitchen and grocery store. The Amazon language assistant gives cooking tips, shopping help and a lot of silly humor for toddlers. The Alexa 2-in-1 kitchen and the Alexa market of the toy manufacturer KidKraft are making their debut this weekend New York Toy Fair
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The deluxe wooden play set will be sold on Amazon.com next year and contains dozens of accessories that trigger various Alexa reactions. Not included: Alexa herself, who would come from the parents Echo Smart Speaker, designed to sit in the middle of the play set.

Amazon is committed to proving that its products are family friendly. This also includes bringing Alexa into the toy box. The company was in private beta with various developers to develop games and smart toys that work with Alexa. We've seen Games use Alexa as a timer and score keeperBut KidKraft's creation takes things to a whole new level: it uses a mix of RFID sensors and Bluetooth to tell Alexa what foods kids buy and cook.

How it works

KidKraft is still working on all the programming details of how kids will talk to Alexa in this game mode. A staged prototype, which is demonstrated at the toy fair, gives a general idea: Alexa only speaks when a sensor on the play set is activated. Put a toy hot dog in the saucepan on the stove, and Alexa knows you are cooking hot dogs. Children hear the splash sound effect and Alexa warns when the hot dogs are ready and should hurry up and get the buns.

"When they get cold, they're chili dogs," she says.

KidKraft is an established role-playing toy company that sells chic wooden kitchens that touch modern trends. So it is not far fetched that one of his play sets contains the latest technology when today's 3-year-olds are already talking to their parents' Alexa device. The twist is that KidKraft creates a program that works in the Amazon Alexa world and helps kids learn about cooking meals and shopping while cooking.

The fun starts when a parent opens the Amazon app and Alexa adds new functionality – in this case, a program created by KidKraft, also known as Alexa skill. Then the parent or child can ask Alexa to start the KidKraft program through an intelligent speaker like the Echo. Alexa is now ready to work with the kitchen and the market.

Children don't always have to say the hot word "Alexa" for the assistant to respond while they play. In fact, the microphone is not always active. The voice assistant is only used to speak or ask questions, depending on how children play with the accessories.

Accessories that come with the kitchen and the market, including counterfeit groceries, cookware, and a credit card, are equipped with RFID chips, and sensors can detect which items are at the checkout, on the stove, or on the cutting board. The playback set then forwards this information to the smart speaker via Bluetooth.

If a child puts lettuce on the market scanner, this could cause Alexa to say, "Salad! Are we going to make a salad?" And if a child says, "Yes," Alexa will say, "Great! I love salad. Maybe avocado too."

According to KidKraft, the program offers a total of more than 700 different voice commands and responses, which include prompts for a recipe, a shopping list with ingredients, or to start a game.

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The deluxe play set includes a market on one side and a kitchen on the other with dozens of play pieces that interact with Alexa through a mix of RFID sensors and Bluetooth.

KidKraft

The play set is also programmed with several games that Alexa can play. For example, the Secret Ingredient Game encourages children to use clues to guess what food Alexa is thinking of. Then the children have to scan the right item at the checkout.

There is a bundle of recipe cards that can be inserted into a slot. Insert a card and Alexa will tell you all the ingredients you need in the store.

Scan the hot dog and buns at the checkout and Alexa will tell you the total bill. (Along with the suggestion to buy antacids for these hot dogs and why people eat hot dogs at all. This father's sense of humor is strong in this demo.) Children can then open a cash register or use their credit card.

"Let's go back to the kitchen," says Alexa.

There was a clear balance of how Alexa in this illusory world just lets children do their own thing when they scan food or put objects in the pot. And yet I wish we could have demonstrated the experience of speech recognition interaction.

A promotional video, which you can see embedded below, offers a foretaste. Children tell Alexa that they want to cook a brontosaurus pizza, and Alexa replies, "This will be dinosaur mite!"

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Alexa 2-in-1 promotional video for the kitchen and market


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If a parent does not want to give the echo to play, the kitchen and market still produce some sound effects, e.g. B. turning on the tap or gas cooker. Children just won't get the Alexa interactions.

It's unusual to put Alexa at the center of a toy, but industry analyst Juli Lennet, vice president of the NPD Group, says it's a more interesting mix of technology than before.

"It's different and I always like things that have a classic game pattern but a twist, and that's definitely that."

Toy industry insiders interviewed by CNET said the number of technology-related toys is declining as parents try to limit screen time for children interested in video games, phones, and tablets. However, the KidKraft recipe can be a way to reverse this trend. It merges today's technology with physical play, but only with one voice instead of a screen.

And yet the audience for this play kitchen is limited. An Adobe study estimates that 36% of consumers have a smart speaker. Nevertheless, Amazon dominates the category and is growing. The company recently said Alexa has smart home engagement Almost doubled year after year, with Alexa on 100 million devices.

Stir the pot of privacy concerns

The KidKraft team seems to be aware that when cooking a toy that works with Alexa, they have to take privacy into account. Spielwarenmesse employees compared this to a "concept car" because the team takes the time to do things right.

When it comes to children using voice assistants, Amazon has received numerous criticisms, questions, and concerns about data collection and how children should interact with the technology. Last year, the children's lawyers asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Echo Dot Kids Edition – A candy-colored version of the intelligent speaker with child lock – for collecting sensitive data about children who are parents could not delete, Amazon also stands out two lawsuits They claim that Amazon's intelligent speakers have picked up children without their consent.

To address concerns, Amazon is asking Alexa programs for children, including KidKraft's, for stricter content guidelines. Programs for children must not contain advertising, sell anything, collect personal information or contain content that is not suitable for all ages.

Kyle Laughlin, director of Alexa Gadgets at Amazon, said in an email to CNET that the company takes the concerns seriously and that parents must be the ones who even agree to download such a program.

"We believe the voice will be a big part of the future," said Laughlin. "Technology is generally not a substitute for parenting, but we believe child-friendly products and skills can provide a fun, interactive, and educational experience."

Originally published on February 20.

Update, February 22: Contains additional details for the demonstration of the toy fair.