This smart speaker for kids is a godsend for modern parents
Published in Fast Company. By Lilly Smith, associate editor.
Worried about the potential side effects of excess screen time, and propelled by Montessori teachings that see independence as a boon to child development, two parents created a connected screen-free audio device that plays stories, podcasts, audio books, music, and more, called the Yoto player. After version one of the device sold out in 2019, Yoto worked with Jon Marshall’s and Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell’s teams at Pentagram London to redesign the device, now available for preorder. The result is a thoughtful piece of tech designed specifically with kids in mind—as the site proclaims, “No cam. No mic. No funny business.”
But as with any smart or connected device, there’s the question of security. And amid privacy and data sharing concerns with Amazon products, I wondered if the Yoto player had a similar ability to listen or capture the audio around it. According to Marshall, the device “deliberately doesn’t have a microphone or camera,” so no personal data is captured. The speaker acts simply as an output for sound, which he says, “itself uses a secure connection (HTTPS) to Yoto’s server.” A speaker that functions solely in one direction, as an audio output—with no input—should mean you won’t be subjected to targeted ads based on overheard conversations about L.O.L. Surprise! dolls or whatever your kids are talking about.
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