I have thus far resisted bringing an Alexa into my home, not for fear that Amazon will spy on me (they are fully aware I’m parked on my ass watching The Expanse), but because I do not want to hear my adolescent sons screaming, “Hey Alexa, do a fart!” every 20 seconds. If this new Alexa-integrated KidKraft play kitchen had been available eight years ago, though, I would have gladly given Jeff Bezos my money, my personal information, and one night of Indecent Proposal-style action with my husband.
According to CNET, a prototype of the tech-enabled play kitchen debuted at the New York Toy Fair last weekend, but it does not actually include an Alexa for children to call their very own, because as any parent who has left a toddler alone with an Alexa, a credit card, and the promise of low prices and free shipping will tell you, that would be absolutely insane. Instead, RFID sensors embedded into the kitchen and accessories communicate via Bluetooth to an Alexa device that is legally owned and operated by a responsible parent, so in the event UPS starts showing up with giant boxes filled with candy and fart butts, that’s on you, not them.
As sensor-embedded accessories are used in different parts of the playset, Alexa will will say things related to whatever activity it believes the child is doing. Put a hot dog in a saucepan on the stove, and Alexa will make a splash sound effect to simulate them being dropped into water, and then set an automatic timer to let the child know when they’re ready. If lettuce is placed on the grocery scanner, Alexa is prompted to say, “Lettuce! Are we making a salad?” and if the response is “yes,” Alexa is cued to give responses like, “Great! I love salad. Maybe get some avocado, too.” Kids can then pay for the avocados with a credit card, because it’s never too early to start teaching children about the debt they will incur by eating avocado toast after the Avopocolypse finally happens.
According to KidKraft, there are over 700 voice commands and responses, as well as pre-programmed guessing games and recipes. Of course, no tech can exist without posing a threat to humans and their usefulness, and that is why Alexa is fully equipped with an arsenal of dad jokes. If kids scan hot dogs at the grocery register, Alexa will suggest they also buy antacids and ask “why humans even eat hot dogs.” (Perhaps future versions of Alexa will have a Joaquin Phoenix mode?)
The KidKraft Alexa kitchen is expected to hit the market next year, available on Amazon (of course) for $300. As someone who has owned a KidKraft kitchen, I can also predict it will take you at least 17 very painful hours to put together.