Barbie’s always had a dreamhouse, but now it’s a new updated one with smart technology. That’s right, Mattel created a wifi-enabled Smart House for classic bestseller. The new Dream House—complete with colorful furniture—comes with an accompanying undetectable cell phone spy app that teaches kids all about technology and luxury.
The idea of a smart house has been around for years—with entire kitchens being designed and presented by such forward-thinking retailers like IKEA. Their concepts feature self-chilling containers, predictive cooking surfaces, and connected rooms that allow you play streaming music in whichever room you travel to.
Now, Mattel is getting in on the action—scaling the smart home down to doll size so that young girls and boys can experience their own version of a futuristic and opulent lifestyle. The company unveiled the techcessory—which is said to go on sale this fall—at the International Toy Fair in New York City in early February. But it won’t make it to every child’s home—not with a price tag of $299. And it doesn’t necessarily promote what a real modern female should be like or strive for.
Styled in the same way that many of Barbie’s homes have been for decades, the new Dream House features a staircase that turns into a slide, orange chairs, a purple sofa, and several chandeliers—the kind of thing that only appeals to young girls. But what others might find appealing is that the smart-house syncs up to wifi and responds to verbal commands thanks to the accompanying app. Some of the things that kids can do are to turn on Barbie’s oven and turn on the lights.
Besides being just a cool and fun new way to get kids to play, the smart house was created in order to reflect the modern American home and the women who live in them. Long gone are the days when the mother was the busy housewife who cooked, cleaned and cared for the kids all day. Today’s modern women works, coaches, does the bills—and still cooks, cleans and cares for the kids. She also loves technology. The new Dream House shows how the dreams and realities of life have changed for the today’s women.
Those very same changes have also been reflected in Mattel’s recent creation of more realistic Barbie dolls. In order to deal with the decades-long criticisms of classic Barbie’s unrealistic proportions, the company recently announced a new line of dolls that come in different shapes and sizes.
While many may see Mattel’s new products as a shift in attitude toward how girls and women should be seen, it doesn’t necessarily mean they care about people. Cultural views have changed over the decades since Barbie was first created—and toys have had to change with them. Sure, toys generally entertain children, but they also give them a sense of identity. They condition kids to be or act in a certain way. The Barbie lifestyle of old taught domesticity to millions of young girls. The newer versions are teaching them diversity, individuality and modernity. But one thing that has not changed over all these years is Mattel’s make girls want more. More furniture. More clothes. More accessories. And now … more tech. I guess in a world over run with Kardashian wannabes, they really are reflecting the culture.