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Wi-Fi-Enabled Barbie Can Be Hacked, Analyst Says

She looks like all the others before her: perfect hair, cute outfit, dynamite body. But she’s nothing like her predecessors. America’s most iconic toy has evolved. “Hello Barbie” is the world’s first artificial intelligence-enabled Barbie doll.

She is connected to Wi-Fi, remembers what a child says, and is able to carry on a conversation, making her seem like she is alive.

“She can actually talk to you,” said 9-year-old Sofia. “And not fake talking.”

“It’s actually funner than other Barbies” said 10-year-old Aiyah.

Rhonda Hoff says her daughter Aiyah confides in Barbie like she would in a diary.

“They have something they go talk to everyday when they are upset, then they go express themselves,” said Hoff.

Those expressions are stored in the Cloud and accessed from a smart phone.

“We put parents in control of their child’s data, beginning with parental consent and by giving them the option to review and delete any or all of their child’s interactions with Hello Barbie,” said a spokesperson for Toy Talk, the company that created the technology behind the talking Barbie.

But Chicago’s NBC 5 Investigates found parents are not the only ones able to get that information.

“I was able to get some information out of it that I probably shouldn’t have,” said security researcher Matthew Jackubowski. He hacked Barbie’s operating system. “System information, Wi-Fi network names, its internal Mac address, account ID’s and MP3 files.”

Jackubowski says he has enough information to then access a person’s home Wi-Fi network and everything Barbie records.

“It’s just a matter of time until we are able to replace their servers with ours and have her say anything we want,” he said.

Buyer beware this holiday season.

RadioShack Names Nick Cannon As CCO

RadioShack, which is publicly mounting a comeback of sorts, announced Nick Cannon will join as its chief creative officer.

Cannon will assist in the development of RadioShack-exclusive products, the retailer said in a statement, and will hold an office in its Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters. He will also help “further transform the retailer into the must-visit electronics destination, from curating the music selection to performances and events.” Special focus will be paid to RadioShack’s educational and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives.

Said Cannon in a statement: “RadioShack is a brand that matters. As a kid, spending time in my neighborhood RadioShack was invaluable. The maker mentality and educational approach taught me a lot and encouraged me to explore my own creativity. In return I wanted to give back by fostering creative pursuits in others, and helping kids move to the next level. I’ve been able to do that with my company, NCredible, and I’m proud to do even more as chief creative officer for RadioShack.”

Cannon is already a veteran in the CE space, having developed a line of headphones with Monster and serving as the Entertainment Matters Ambassador at CES 2015.

Google App Turns Smartphone Into VR Camera

Google released a Cardboard Camera app that turns Android phones into virtual-reality cameras.

Users hold out the phone in front of them as they move around in a circle, capturing a 360-degree photo that can be viewed when the phone is placed in Google’s Cardboard viewer, Google explained.

The VR photos present slightly different views for each eye, adding three-dimensional depth to the photos. The photos can also be viewed from all directions. The app also records sound with the photo.

“With Cardboard Camera, anyone can create their own VR experience,” Google said.

Facebook Brings Its Live Streaming To The Masses

Facebook is taking live video to the masses.

The company is beginning to roll out a feature that allows regular users to broadcast live video directly on Facebook. Previously, this feature was available only to public figures and celebrities via Facebook’s Mentions app, according to a Buzzfeed report.

Julie Zhuo, director of product design at Facebook, told Buzzfeed News that the initial rollout was met with a positive response among Facebookers. “I think we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback,” she said. “What we heard was just people really wanted to use it as well [as celebrities].”

Though the current live-streaming market already has a handful of established apps — see: Periscope, Meerkat — Facebook’s product could find a niche with those who are interested in broadcasting more personal moments, such as college graduations, but not looking to share them with the world. Facebook’s privacy settings can be applied when sharing a live video, so if you want only a limited group to see your broadcast, you can restrict who it will reach.

“People are excited to use it for events,” Zhuo said, offering examples of a hike, a dinner party and Christmas morning. “These are meaningful moments in people’s lives that they want to bring loved ones closer in who can’t physically be there.”

When a live stream is completed, it will remain on Facebook as a normal video that can be watched after the broadcast. The feature begin rolling out last week, starting with a small percentage of iOS users in the U.S.

Apple Music Service Comes To Sonos

The Apple Music subscription streaming service will be available through Sonos wireless multiroom-audio systems starting Dec. 15 when a public beta program goes into effect, the companies announced.

Sonos said its multizone-audio system will be the first to support the subscription service.

Sonos already lets users listen to their computer’s iTunes library through the Sonos app, which doesn’t allow for streaming of Apple’s free iTunes Radio service. The app did stream Apple’s Beats music service, which was discontinued Nov. 30 in favor of the $9.99/month Apple Music.


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