OK, Google. Did you have to get the ‘Chucky’ designers for robot toys? Taking a page from Amazon’s Echo, the Google X project would have interactive toys responding to voice commands with not only speech, but actions and expressions.
Nice. I always wanted a gremlin…
What type of toys? Looking at the patent filings, Google is looking at stuffed animals. Rabbits and teddy bears. Taking interaction to the next level, capabilities of the toy might “open its eyes, lift its head and/or focus its gaze on the user.”
The animation is meant to convey the toy’s interest in what you’re saying. Uncomfortable scratching or furrowed brows will be used to express curiosity, according to the patent. Or, it could be the robot expressing frustration your kid is watching the same damn Minecraft video over and over again.
Google’s Gremlin (please call it that) is the work of Richard Wayne DeVaul of Google X. It’s the tech company’s lab for all things outside the box. Why a cuddly interface? According to the Google X team, the belief is that it would speed adoption of smart home technology.
Kids could quickly pick up the intuitive controls. And, people unable or unwilling to learn traditional controls would, in theory, adopt this route quicker.
Yes, the random guy’s house littered with smart teddy bears. Brother, you can go ahead and delete Tinder. It ain’t happening.
The patent application isn’t without controversy. SmartUp, a research firm that spotted the application, blasted the idea as ‘creepy’ and ‘simply unnecessary.’ Privacy concerns were also cited, as critics claim it effectively eavesdrops on children.
Really? That’s your argument against the teddy bear that stares back at you? Little Timmy’s conversations are private. How dare his bear turn on Netflix for him?
With Google, a patent application does not equal a commercial program. A statement released to the BBC confirmed as much:
“We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications.”
One area of the patent that shows real-world implications is the gaze research. For all the Smart TVs on the market, the ‘smart’ moniker is pure marketing. Tracking a user’s gaze would allow future devices to know when instructions are being given.
Say you’re in the kitchen acting like you’re cooking. Glancing at the TV and issuing basic commands could affect just your TV. Too many devices are listening today, and gaze tracking will be integral to make the smart home complete.
But, teddy bears dotting your house? Yeah, that’s not weird at all…