Tag Archives: Google Patent

Google patents Internet-connected toys that can control smart home devices

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.

Google patents customizable robot personalities

Newly-patented system would allow users to download the personality of a celebrity or a deceased loved one to a robot.

Google has been granted a patent that would allow the company to develop downloadable personalities for robots drawn from the cloud, such as your favorite celebrity or even a deceased loved one.


“The robot personality may also be modifiable within a base personality construct (i.e., a default-persona) to provide states or moods representing transitory conditions of happiness, fear, surprise, perplexion (e.g., the Woody Allen robot), thoughtfulness, derision (e.g., the Rodney Dangerfield robot), and so forth,” the filing reveals.

Just as you would download an app, Google’s patent details how a user could download various actions and personalities. The robot would use information from a person’s mobile devices, such as calendar information, emails, texts messages, call logs, web browsing history and TV viewing schedule, to determine a personality to take on that would suit the user. Beyond that, friends will even be able to clone their robots and exchange aspects of its personality.

“The personality and state may be shared with other robots so as to clone this robot within another device or devices. In this manner, a user may travel to another city, and download within a robot in that city (another ‘skin’) the personality and state matching the user’s ‘home location’ robot. The robot personality thereby becomes transportable or transferable,” the document continues.

Google also outlines a number of examples where the robot can learn human behavior and adapt accordingly, whether that’s knowing a user is grumpy when it’s raining outside, in need of coffee before heading off to work, or even being unable to consume particular meals due to food allergies.

“For example, the user may be allergic to mangos and may update a user-profile to include such information. Simultaneously, a robot may update the user-profile to include that the user is also allergic to peanuts. When the dining fare is French cooking, the robot may be queued to adopt the persona of Julia Child.”

Based on the information in its user-profile, the robot can even adopt a butler persona and offer up suggestions. Meanwhile, users can interact with the robot and tell it if it has done something wrong, as well as be programmed to provide a desired look.

Robots that mimic humans are still very much in their infancy, and truthfully there’s no telling where this technology can go — especially when backed by giants like Google. And while there’s no guarantee that this patent will ever come to fruition, it may very well be the next step in making human-robot relationship a reality. Intrigued? You can read the entire patent filing here.

Google patents a wearable odor-sensing (and masking) device

Like a Glade Plug-in for your armpits? 

While most of the wearable devices on the market today have been geared towards tracking activity levels, monitoring sleep habits or even analyzing fitness routines, we may be on the cusp of a new era in body-adorned gadgetry. That’s because Google has received a patent for a movement-tracker that activates a web-connected air freshener to emit a fragrance to mask any offending odors caused by physical activity. In other words, you’ll no longer need to smell your armpits to ensure that you’re free of B.O.


How it works is pretty self-explanatory. If the device, shall find you on the smelly side, it will give off a nice-smelling fragrance to deoderize you. What’s more, the gizmo also plugs into your social media accounts to help steer clear of any friends who may be in your vicinity. If someone is nearby, the device will send the not-so-fresh-smelling wearer a map with a route to navigate around those folks. The one-of-a-kind gadget is also equipped with a tiny fan to ensure the fragrance gets to the right place.

“When a user is wearing the fragrance emission device and begins to exert himself or herself, an activity module within the device may detect the physical exertion. The activity module may detect a rise in sweat levels, an increase in body odor or body temperature, or any other parameter that may indicate the user is exercising or otherwise exerting themself,” Patent No. 8,950,238 reads.

When the activity module determines that the user is performing a physical activity, it alerts the device’s built-in predictor. This predictor then uses the information provided by the activity module to predict when the user will generate body odor in the future, and when a fragrance will need to be applied to the user.

“For the purposes of brevity, the material applied to the user will be described as a fragrance, however, the material applied may also be an odor neutralizer, which would serve to neutralize or eliminate the body odor generated by the user instead of covering it up with a fragrance. In some embodiments, the predictor may also use information stored within the device regarding past instances where a fragrance was emitted, combine that information with the current information supplied by the activity module, determine when body odor will be generated by the user, and dispense an appropriate amount of fragrance at an appropriate time,” the patent document explains.

Once the predictor determines when the user will begin to generate body odor, an optional alert module located within the device may alert the user of the situation and let the user know when the fragrance will be emitted. The user will then have the opportunity to override the impending fragrance emission, based on the current circumstances of the user. This will particularly come in handy if, say, you are planning on showering immediately after a high-intensity workout.

“Should the user choose to reject the fragrance emission, a suppressor located within the device will cancel the scheduled fragrance emission such that the material dispenser will not dispense the fragrance at the scheduled time. Should the user choose to accept the fragrance emission instead, the suppressor will not cancel the scheduled fragrance emission, and the material dispenser will dispense the fragrance at the scheduled time.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Google concept will actually make it to product form. Though, given the proliferation of fitness-focused apps and wearables, it does mean that the world is becoming more active and therefore will get a bit stinkier, too. Interested in learning more? You can find the entire patent here.