You can count on Google to be one step ahead when it comes to technology trends, home automation being no exception.
But what is an internet giant to do when it has already released the energy saving Nest thermostat, forever changing the way people think about how they manage their home’s temperature, or when it’s got a patent for a home ‘security score’ system covered, as well as developed a new language for all IoT devices to use?
Why, submit a patent for a responsive, robotic ‘smart butler’ toy of course!
Google’s plans involve that of an anthropomorphic device, most likely in the form of a doll or toy, which 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 robot/toy may interpret the voice command and map it to a media device command.
Then, the furry friend may transmit the media device command to a media device, instructing the media device to change state.
Note the use of the word ‘may’.
However, if you were hoping that patent-fillers Richard DeVaul or Daniel Aminzade would fill you in as to when the robot/toy will be padding around homes, you only need glance at Richard’s personal website to see that Google will be keeping schtum.
“I’m fortunate enough to have one of the coolest jobs in the tech world,” Richard writes. “And no, I’m not interested in discussing what I do with anyone outside a very small circle of people I work with. People I don’t talk to about my work include trusted friends and family as well as members of the press, bloggers, etc. I am extraordinarily unlikely to make an exception.”
Google has noticed that with the rise of Internet Protocol (IP) based networking, the use of media technologies continue to expand and diversify.
Modern televisions, digital video recorders, DVD players, stereo components, home automation components, MP3 players, mobile phones and other devices can now communicate with one another via IP.
“This advent, in turn, has brought about dramatic changes in how these media devices are used,” Google comments.
Basically, the patent is aimed at building a stuffed toy that will be able to interact with the user/owner using various sensors.
Images on the patent detail a toy rabbit and bear marked up showing details where sensors and hardware will be placed.
The ‘anthropomorphic device’ will be kitted out with cameras in the eyes, while a motorised neck will enable the toy to turn its head to make eye contact with anyone in the room.
Microphones will be placed in the ears (they need to hear, after all), while speakers will be placed – where else? – in the mouth.
Google claims that the toy can blink, straighten or relax its ears, wiggle its nose or twitch its tail, as well as perform various tasks using connected devices.