Human-toy interaction has been an avenue that toymakers have been pursuing for some time. But unlike talking Barbie dolls, Google has a much greater plan. The tech giant has had its R&D department working on internet-connected toys capable of sensing movement and controlling clever home appliances.
Recently, Google published a patent detailing such a device. The toy in question would be equipped with a variety of sensors, speakers, cameras and microphones. It would therefore be capable of listening to what users are saying or sensing if anyone enters a room before commanding remote computer servers controlling household appliances.
But however clever the idea may sound at first, its reception has been far from enthusiastic. In fact, this patent is considered to belong to the tech giant’s creepiest patents filed.
Imagine sitting in front of the television on a Saturday night watching TV. You don’t like what’s on and you turn to your friendly, cuddly teddy bear and ask him to change the channel. But that alone isn’t so creepy, right?
What makes the patent creepy is its movement-sensing abilities. Because of its multitude of sensors, the teddy bear should be able to sense you looking at it. It would, therefore, respond by looking back at you.
The patent describes several “social cues” which act as triggers for the teddy bear. Toys would sense when users are making contact and would be able to express human-like interest cues such as interest, boredom or surprise.
“To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head and/or focus its gaze on the user,” Mr. DeVaul explained.
The devices could control anything from motorized window curtains and lights to thermostats, radios and DVD players or televisions. It’s when such a “social cue” is misread and your window curtain begins moving in the middle of the night that things may turn creepy.
Though privacy advocates have also expressed concerns as to Google’s patent, company spokespeople did not confirm whether Google was actually planning on developing and selling the technology.
Google files multiple patents for those ideas worth pursuing, however, these ideas get filtered out and few of them actually mature into real products.
The idea originated from Richard Wayne DeVaul, Google’s “director of rapid evaluation and mad science.”
But despite their seemingly innocent exterior and appeal to young users, there are some concerns regarding such technology. Such devices may be capable of recording conversations or logging the activity of users.
Campaign Group Big Brother Watch director, Emma Carr, believes that such technology crosses the “creepy line” when aimed directly at children. Such technology, she says, is unnecessary and children should be able to play privately without such invasions of their privacy.
Image Source: Daily Mail