In June, we received backing from Amazon's Alexa Fund and began integrating the voice recognition technology that enables their Echo device into our Talkies. The first step in that process was to test whether Alexa made sense for kids. I have three of those, so I knew it made a whole lot of sense to start with them.
There aren't many questions my children ask that I can answer. It's not that I don't know anything, it's just that I don't know any of the things they want to know. How many minutes from now until Christmas? Who holds the world record for the longest toenails? What is the happiest variety of shark? These are very real gaps in my knowledge.
So when I asked, "Alexa, how much does an Apatosaurus weigh?" in front of my kids to demonstrate her encyclopedic knowledge, it took them 9 seconds to stop coming to me for answers.
She is their DJ, their VA, and personal shopper. Whether they need a dance track, the time in New Delhi, the weather forecast, or two-day shipping on a Duplo set, all they have to do, literally, is ask.
Alexa has earned their respect in a way that I haven't. They love me, but they don't think of me as a wizard, and that hurts.
Nevertheless, as a parent, I embrace Alexa. She gives my kids access to the web without the risks of them finding Internet porn or old episodes of The Real Faces of Death. This voice recognition software makes so much sense for kids, because - like Toymail, and unlike most everything else in kid tech - it is simple and safe to use.
And while I'm no wizard, I guess you could call me an apprentice. After all, I am the mom who helped make the first toy that Alexa's going to call home
-Audry Hill, Co-Founder, Toymail