Anyone who has worked for – or hired the services of – London-based domestic staff agencies will know that nannies and other private household staff do not have an easy job. Looking after somebody else’s children is surely one of the biggest responsibilities that someone can have; it is quite amazing, therefore, that the American toymakers Mattel have just released details of what they hope will be the world’s first successful ‘virtual nanny’.
As reported in the Mail Online, Mattel’s new ‘Aristotle’ system – which is scheduled for release in June of this year at a retail price of $399 – is designed to mimic the actions that are carried out by traditional nannies without any ongoing cost.
According to the company, Aristotle will recognise when a baby wakes up and will be able to send it back to sleep by playing a lullaby or other favourite song or emitting a night light; it will automatically log when a parent changes their child’s nappy or feeds them, and can reorder supplies accordingly; it can play games with the child via a voice recognition system; and it will allow parents to check their babies are OK via video link.
The device is designed to be compatible with Amazon’s Alexa system, which means owners of the Amazon Echo should not have much trouble getting used to interacting with it. Amazon’s shopping platform is even built into Aristotle, and parents can switch between whether their device responds to them or their child by simply saying ‘Alexa’ or ‘Aristotle’. As the makers point out, this is an important feature to ensure that children do not accidentally order items such as nappies when they are not needed!
Mattel have responded to the inevitable questions about security with reassurances that its Aristotle device will be fully encrypted and virtually impossible for hackers to compromise.
Of course, no matter how advanced this technology is, we are confident that there can be no true replacement for the skill, compassion and experience of a good nanny. As anyone who has employed a professional nanny will know, there can be no substitute for the real thing!
Image Credit: Andrew Malone