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Mattels new Aristotle smart home hub for kids and parents.

LAS VEGAS — A new smart hub announced today by Mattel, targeted to kids and parents, is notable in part because it will be powered by Microsoft’s Cortana technology, not Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, in contrast with many other Alexa-powered devices at CES this week.

But for parents, this might be the killer feature: the system, dubbed Aristotle, can be set up to require kids to say “please” before the device will respond. If only it could also require proof of eating vegetables, this would be the greatest parental innovation ever created.

Mattel Image

The system, including a connected room device and a camera, is scheduled to be released this summer for $299. It’s a partnership of Mattel’s nabi tech brand along with partner companies Microsoft, Qualcomm and Silk Labs.

Mattel says in a news release, “Unlike other voice activated, AI-driven connected home platforms, Aristotle is designed with a specific purpose and mission: to aid parents and use the most advanced AI-driven technology to make it easier for them to protect, develop, and nurture the most important asset in their home—their children.”

The system uses Microsoft Cognitive Services to power the artificial intelligence services, and will soon be updated to incorporate the Cortana Intelligence technology, Mattel says.

[Update, Thursday morning: A spokesperson confirms that Amazon Alexa is also integrated into the device and can be used while the system is parent mode.]

The AI includes the ability to detect when a baby cries and automatically play a lullaby or turn the lights on low. In a learning session, the system can light up with green or red to let toddlers know if they’ve answered questions correctly. For older kids, the device can be used for homework help, music, games and foreign language lessons, among other features.

The incorporated smart light system adjusts to serve as a night light, reading light and changing light, depending on the situation. Aristotle also can work with IFTTT (If This Then That) and other third-party services to enable a range of additional features.

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