Interactive toys are focus of latest Google patent
Whilst Amazon was busy trying to use voice control to make ordering easier, Google has been focused on using it to take over your children’s toys.
The company's latest patent entitled "Agent Interfaces for Interactive Electronics that Support Social Cues" (via Engadget), seems to outline its newest idea of introducing voice and motion controlled technology into objects. We have a sneaking suspicion it's going to be aimed at children owing to Google's convenient hint "perhaps in the form factor of a doll or toy".
Its "attractive user interface" is yet another hint that this could become a case of having Big Brother in the bedroom in the guise of "cartoonish dolls or toys". However "other physical appearances" are mentioned in the patent, even so far as to say that "the anthropomorphic 'device' may be a hologram or avatar on a computer screen".
If Small Soldiers and Ted have taught us anything, it's that toys coming to life never really goes the way we want it to, so the big hurdle to overcome for Google is how to create these toys without making them intrusive or, quite frankly, creepy as hell. They aren't doing a good job of it in their writing, demonstrating that speaking to it will mean that it "may aim its gaze at the source of the social cue".
These "anthropomorphic devices" won't just respond to sound, either. The patent shows there could be cameras mounted into the head, thus making motion control a possible reality. Be careful showing off your dance moves to it though, because you might get a reaction that you don't like since "anthropomorphic devices 104 and 106 may simulate human-like expressions of interest, curiosity, boredom, and/or surprise".
Google's new toy will be able to connect with devices via a server on its network, so it can transmit commands received from its microphone or camera. This might lead to you telling a teddy bear to turn down your music or open up apps on your devices - because who doesn't need a middle man (in the shape of a cuddly toy)?
This patent was filed in 2012 and, if Google has been doing any work on it in the three years since, its kept it very quiet. When talking teddy bears take over, we'll be the first to let you know.