More reports on: Toys

Google files patent for interactive toys

25 May 2015

Google has filed a patent for toys capable of interacting with other media devices and which can pay attention to who is in a room.

The US Patent and Trademark Office shared diagrams Thursday of the toys that look like rabbits and bears. They have microphones in their ears, cameras in their eyes, speakers in their mouths and motors in their necks.

The envisioned devices were described as capable of listening for someone, turning a head to make "eye contact," hear what was said and respond with pre-recorded phrases.

The toys would communicate using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or other means with cloud-based computers or manage other media devices, which children could perhaps use to turn on songs or movies.

According to the patent application such a toy-like device could serve as an "intelligent remote control" that made managing home entertainment or automation systems simple.

"The anthropomorphic device may be a doll or a toy that resembles a human, an animal, a mythical creature or an inanimate object," according to the published patent.

The toys could also come with face and voice recognition, making the devices able to recognise who they were "looking at," according to the paperwork.

The patent describes several ''social cues'' which could act as cues for the teddy bear.

They would sense when users were making contact and would be able to express human-like interest cues such as interest, boredom or surprise.

The devices may be able to control anything from motorised window curtains and lights to thermostats, radios and DVD players or televisions.

It was when such a ''social cue'' was misread and one's window curtain started moving in the middle of the night that things could turn creepy.

The idea comes from Richard Wayne DeVaul, Google's ''director of rapid evaluation and mad science.''

However, according to some experts, though the innocent exterior could appeal to young users, there were concerns regarding the technology.

The devices might be capable of recording conversations or logging the activity of users.

According to Campaign Group Big Brother Watch director, Emma Carr, such technology crossed the ''creepy line'' when aimed directly at children, Wall Street OTC reported. She said such technology was not required and children should be able to play privately without such invasions of their privacy.

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