Not often we come out in objection to new ideas but reports we have read of the new idea from Google are just plain creepy! Google have patented toys with internet connection that would control our homes.
The initial drawings featured a very cuddly teddy and rabbit; all very cute until you begin to delve deeper.
The three- year old patent was newly discovered by legal tech company, SmartUp. They too agreed, it’s ‘one of Google’s creepiest patents yet.’ With their spokesman, Mikhail Avady saying he felt it belonged in a horror story.
Google have been quick to point out that they are undecided if they are too actually commercially produce the product.
A spokeswoman for Google said, “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.”
Its inventor is named as Richard Wayne DeVaul, whose job title is “director of rapid evaluation and mad science” at Google X – the firm’s secretive “skunkworks” lab.
The patent describes how the toys would include microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. It states that a trigger word would cause them to wake up and turn their gaze towards the person addressing them, and would be able to check if the person talking was making eye contact.
The suggestion is that by looking cute, ‘young children might find these forms to be attractive’ and adults would interact with them more naturally than a traditional computer interface.
Homes could use one or have a number of ‘toys’ to spread around the home to assist different members of the family.
This is where things get really creepy. The document suggests the device could respond both by speaking back and by expressing “human-like” expressions of interest, curiosity, boredom and/or surprise.
“To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head and/or focus its gaze on the user,” Mr DeVaul wrote.
“To express curiosity, it may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm.”
It is reminded us here at Comms Express of the teddy featured in Steven Spielberg’s AI.
Needless it has also reached the attention of privacy campaigners such as Big Brother Watch. The group’s director Emma Carr said
“The privacy concerns are clear when devices have the capacity to record conversations and log activity. When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line. Children should be able to play in private and shouldn’t have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy. It is simply unnecessary. “
Now as regular readers of our blog with testify we are always quick to champion innovative ideas. However the Google teddy is maybe one step too far!
And of course Google are not the first to venture into this field of technology and will not be the last. Mattel has debuted Hello Barbie – a doll that taps into a Wi-Fi connection to chat with young girls, and record conversations. Despite a huge outcry from parents, its creators insisted that every effort had been made to ensure that the information captured by the doll would remain totally safe.
Until next time.