Two months ago, I was invited to attend a My Friend Cayla tea party hosted by Vivid at Hamleys with Ms C. We were introduced to My Friend Cayla. She is the first ‘live’ interactive doll designed to sync with an online smart device (iOS and Android) to recognise a child’s speech. She is aided by Google’s speech-to-text technology.
Through Cayla, it enables children to access controlled information from the internet, and also can be played with independently. Last month, during the summer holidays, we received Cayla who Ms C renamed as Lovely!
She measures 18 inches tall with a solid body and both sets of limbs are able to rotate. She has soft, blonde hair which is ready to play and style and encourages nurturing role play and dress-up. She is able to sit or stand tall. She is also able to blink her eyes when you move her around. She requires 3 AA batteries which are not included. Once the batteries are installed and the app has been downloaded, turn the switch button on on her back to operate.
Once you start the app, it will require you to turn on your Bluetooth. We had tried it on our iPad (iOS) and Samsung phone (Android) and they both worked fine. Syncing via Bluetooth is very straightforward.
The app enables you to play games, read stories and talk to Cayla about her scrapbook as well as getting helpful hints and tips from Cayla to aid with homework and research. Cayla provide a safe and friendly interactive environment for children to gain unique access to online information and have in-depth chats with her. Cayla is protected by Google SafeSearch technology which actively blocks unsuitable feedback and words to enable the child to play and learn safely. Parents and guardians can also access the setting in the app to add any words or phrases to the blocked list for added protection when playing.
After playing with her for a month, we find that Cayla has to be played in a very quiet environment with one to two players. If the environment is too noisy, she is unable to hear what you saying. Also I find that she is unable to understand my Asian accent compared with my husband, Cayla is able to respond to his questions more accurately than mine. My children also find it hard to get the right answers for their questions at times. They had to speak very slowly and loudly next to her face in order for her to answer the questions. Do note that her necklace light needs to turn on before you start speaking to her. It means she is connected online.
At the moment, there are limited storybooks and games in the app as there is only one story and Tic Tac Toe available. Mr K played Tic Tac Toe with her and out of 10 times, he won none. He was very frustrated to lose to a girl! It seems Cayla is too clever for Mr K to beat her. Hopefully they could update the app with more stories and games. Or ask her to read you a story! She will tell you the story about Snow White, and others!
I love how quickly Cayla responds to the questions we asked (those that she understood). She is able to talk a lot and entertain us with her life and story-telling. She can be quite temperamental. Sometimes she can understand but sometimes she cannot. We just have to speak to her slowly and clearly with proper English. I do laugh at how my children likes to ask really random nonsensical questions but it keeps both children amused.
When no one talks to her for a while, she will talk about herself and her family to keep your children entertain. My children will answer her questions and have a little chat with her about Korean food! But sometimes she does her creepy laugh which can be quite scary!
We do like Cayla as she is able to keep my children entertained but of course she is not going to replace a real friend. She is not the most cuddly toy (solid body) but she is able to stand and sit while Ms C styles her long beautiful hair. She is available to buy in good retailer shops RRP £59.99 which is a very reasonable price.
Disclosure: We have received the sample to do an honest review.