We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Hopefully, if they are ever created, they won't be as creepy as the toys from Five Nights at Freddy's. Wikimedia Commons
we're watching you

Google files a patent for robot toys that will listen and talk to you

The patent says these toys will be used to help control other connected devices.

GOOGLE’S HAS PUBLISHED a patent that would allow toys to listen to what you’re saying so it can control other connected devices.

The patent, which was filed in February 2012 but published recently, describes how such toys can be alert to physical or verbal cues and use them to control other connected devices.

The abstract for the patent reads as follows:

An anthropomorphic device, perhaps in the form factor of a doll or toy, may be configured to control one or more media devices. Upon reception or a detection of a social cue, such as movement and/or a spoken word or phrase, the anthropomorphic device may aim its gaze at the source of the social cue.
In response to receiving a voice command, the anthropomorphic device may interpret the voice command and map it to a media device command. Then, the anthropomorphic device may transmit the media device command to a media device, instructing the media device to change state.

Google patent US Patent Application Publication US Patent Application Publication

From the diagrams included, these toys would be fitted with speakers, microphones and cameras which would allow them to analyse and respond to both physical and verbal cues.

A spokesperson for Google told the BBC that it files patent applications on a variety of ideas and that “prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications.”

Such toys and devices have already been criticised for their potential to store vasts amounts of private information.

Toys like ‘Hello Barbie’ use speech recognition technology to learn about children’s likes, dislikes and ambitions. Privacy campaigners criticised the toys saying they could be exploited and raised concerns about children potentially sharing private details with companies through conversations.

Read: Want to feel old? This guy is 35 today >

Read: The company behind Grand Theft Auto is suing the BBC >

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.