Google wants to create internet-connected toys destined to control smart home appliances. According to a pattern published by the company the device will be able to turn its head towards the users and listen to their orders and afterwards send commands to remote computer servers.
The robot, which comes in the shape of a teddy bear or a bunny, uses facial recognition and consequently recognizes the gaze of the person who is looking at it. Moreover the toy is equipped with microphones and cameras which enable it to respond to voice commands and even to turn on a connected media player or to play music.
The toys also include speakers, motors and a wireless connection to the internet. A trigger word could wake up the toy and make it look at the person addressing them. The device is supposed to be able to reply back by speaking or by expressing human-like reactions such as interest, curiosity, surprise and boredom.
Richard Wayne DeVau is the developer of the toy. He is director of rapid evaluation and mad science at Google X. DeVau explained that the toy will express interest by opening its eyes, lifting its head and focusing its look on the user. Curiosity will be expressed by the toy though tilting its head, furrowing its brow and scratching its head.
Although the patent was published only this week it was filed for the first time in 2012. Just like it happened with any patent awarded to a tech company it does not mean that the company will necessarily release anything. It is not yet known whether the product will be developed and sold. 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.”
Google is not the first company which has developed a family-friendly voice-activated control which can be used as an alternative for smartphones or remote controls. Amazon also sells an internet linked-device having the shape of a cylinder. It is known as Echo and it can be used to order food, control music playback and check the weather.
Mattel has even announced its Hello Barbie, a doll which is provided with wi-fi connection and voice recognition. It can chat with young girls and it can remember things which they said during their conversation.