Google Inc doesn’t believe there’s a reason to design simple, elegant remote controls take can easily go well with any furniture. Instead, they want to put teddy bears with empty eyes in your room and give them the power to take over your home. Because if a home-controlling remote control isn’t creepy, it’s not worth having.
Google recently published a patent that informs that the company’s R&D team has been working on developing internet-connected toys that can control smart home appliances.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has revealed that so far the R&D team has come up with designs for a teddy bear and a rabbit, but also mentions that more could be in the works, with dragons and alien life forms being a priority.
Some could even look human. The patent states that: “The anthropomorphic device may be a doll or a toy that resembles a human, an animal, a mythical creature or an inanimate object”. They would all be programmed to show a variety of human expressions such as interest, curiosity, boredom, surprise and confusion.
Apparently Google has not been following the many scientists and engineers that are trying and failing to get human-looking robots to use facial expression that are anything but utterly creepy and alienating to humans.
The “stuffed animals” would work by using a set of microphones in their ears, cameras in their eyes, speakers in their mouths and motors in their necks that would allow them to sense movement, turn their heads towards users, make eye contact and listen to what they have to say. They would even be able to sense when you’re looking at them even if they wouldn’t be looking at you at the time.
They would then respond with pre-recorded phrases before taking the user’s commands and passing them on to various smart home appliances (TVs, DVD players, sound systems, lights, thermostats, security cameras, motorized window curtains and so on).
The toys could run on the Brillo OS, a software presumably based on Android and aimed towards the Internet of Things (IoT). They would communicate with users wirelessly via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cloud-based systems. It is believed to support extremely low-power devices with as little as 64GB RAM or even 32GB RAM.
If the project sounds to you like an AI-apocalypse or a nightmare inducing scenario waiting to happen, you are not alone.
Experts have been expressing concerns, and even a spokesman from Google didn’t sound very excited about the project when giving a statement:
“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”.
Mikhail Avady of SmartUp said that the device belongs in a horror movie, while the campaign group Big Brother Watch stressed that the privacy concerns are clear when devices have the ability of recording our conversations and logging our activity.
Image Source: dailymail.co.uk