Get ready for the IoT, the Internet of Toys.
Google just filed a patent for what may pan out to be one of the coolest or creepiest inventions to date. We’ll let you decide. That’s because, with aspirations of breaking into the toy industry, the tech giant has revealed a plan for stuff animals that can control other in-home devices such as TVs, DVRs, music players, thermostats and window curtains.
Fitted with sensors, microphones, speakers, motors and cameras, the teddy bear would hypothetically be able to detect whether someone was looking at it it, then rotate its head, make eye contact and speak to the person addressing them. Once the plush toy receives and recognizes a voice prompt, a user can instruct it to change the channel on a TV, skip a song and pull up the weather forecast, among many other commands.
“To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest,” the patent filing reads. “To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils.”
The patent diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny, but notes that the gadgets could also apply to mythical creatures ranging from dragons to aliens. Keep in mind, though, this patent is not a surefire indication that Google will ever launch such a product. In fact, the document was originally filed back in February 2012 and granted the other day. However, should the company never choose to pursue this endeavor, one can only imagine that others will debut similar items in the very near future. Just this year alone, toy maker Mattel announced that it was developing a connected Barbie that can hold conversations with children, while startup Elemental Path took their Internet-enabled dinosaur to Kickstarter.
With the emergence of smart dolls, it’s only a matter of time before privacy issues will ensue. Coincidentally, Atmel resident security always explains that, although IoT is possible without security, without security it would really just be a toy. And recent exploits by hackers prove just that. Literally. One route Siri, the other route Chucky, it will be interesting to see which direction these toys will go.