Why Google Might Be Getting Into the Teddy Bear Business
Google is already all up in our business. The data-hungry tech titan has mined private info from Gmail accounts, snatched passwords from unsuspecting computer users and now it wants to put a wired teddy bear in our homes that sees and hears everything we do and say.
No, we’re not talking about Google Panda. Apparently that was a joke the tech titan pulled last April Fool’s Day. This bear, which Google has freshly patented, is not a joke. The patent, filed back in 2012 and greenlighted just last week, describes an “anthropomorphic device” that could take the shape of a “doll or toy that resembles a human, an animal, a mythical creature or an inanimate object.”
Illustrations in the patent show cute yet creepy rabbit and teddy bear toy designs. The gizmos are equipped with microphones in their ears, cameras in their eyes, motors in their heads and speakers in their mouths. Because all of that isn’t freaky enough, the animated stuffed animal concepts appear as though they’ll be able to turn their motorized, sensor-stacked heads toward people who speak them.
The teddy bear, evocative of Teddy from Steven Spielberg’s 2001 sci-fi flick A.I. Artificial Intelligence, can also “wiggle its ears and nose, wink, and twitch its tail, all of which to fuel your nightmares,” reports The Daily Dot. Nightmares indeed.
The patent, one of the weirdest from Google yet, states that the devices could be configured to control one or more media devices via “social cues,” such as “movement and/or a spoken word or phrase.” Perhaps the creepiest bit is that the voice command cyborg playthings would also follow your eyes with theirs.
Remember, just because a patent has been filed for something doesn’t mean anything will come of it. And, for its part, Google says merely filing a patent application for these furry connected toys doesn’t mean it will ever build and market them. "We hold patents on a variety of ideas -- some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't," the search giant told CNNMoney.
While Google plays coy about its Siri-like connected home device plans, Amazon has already beat it to the punch with the anything-but-cuddly Amazon Echo.
We wonder if Google Panda wasn't a gag after all. Perhaps it was Google's quirky way of warming us up to a snuggly, sinister future product line.
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here.