The Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition just got an adorable wildlife-inspired redesign, but the circular smart speaker itself isn't exactly... cuddly.
Jazwares is looking to change that and give Alexa some plush with its all-new, $20 Fuzzible Friends (opens in new tab) stuffed animals.
Although the Fuzzible Friends don't have built-in microphones, the colorful plushies come to life with Bluetooth and a kid-friendly Alexa skill. When the Fuzzible skill is launched on any of the best Alexa speakers, playing with a nearby Fuzzible Friend becomes an interactive experience.
These plush animals speak a unique language with 140 phrases that Alexa can translate, with parental consent of course. When a Fuzzible Friend is on the road, or the Alexa speaker is out of range, kids can still make their stuffed animal's antenna light up and have it speak gibberish.
Most of the benefits of transforming a Fuzzible Friend into a playmate come via Alexa, though. When using the skill, a child can play color-guessing games, choose their own story and more with their Fuzzible.
Normally, I write Alexa toys off as creepy. But with distance learning a widespread reality, and Amazon taking measure like Kids Voice Profiles (opens in new tab) to tighten up parental controls around the house, smart toys are making more sense.
Don't get me wrong — It's still weird to have your child befriend Alexa. But as long as you're keeping a close eye on your Alexa account settings and supervising your kid's relationship with your smart speakers, you might not need to worry as much about the child accidentally ordering 30 packs of paper towels through the Echo in your kitchen.
There are four different Fuzzible Friends to help you navigate the murky waters of introducing your child to AI: Cubby the Fox, Fluff the Bunny, Sparkles the Unicorn and Cuddles the Puppy.
All cost $19.99 and are available for pre-order as of October 1 at Amazon.com (opens in new tab). They'll start shipping starting November 1, which is soon after the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition is released on October 22.