Worried about Google snooping on your Web browsing or email? That may be the least of the Internet giant’s intrusions if this patent for sensor-packed dolls and toys ever gets put to use in your kids’ room. Filed in 2012 but just published Thursday, the patent describes “interactive electronics that support social cues.” In other words, toys that watch and listen.
The illustration above pretty much says it all, but the truth is Google isn’t likely to start putting out teddy bear snooping devices any time soon. The point, in fact, isn’t surveillance but allowing kids to control their music or movies without having to invoke an invisible Siri or navigate a TV interface. Children can just grab the smart toy, say “play ‘My Little Pony’!” and it’ll do the rest. Think of it like a 21st-century Teddy Ruxpin.
Put like that, it’s not so creepy — might even be useful. But an illustration of a stuffed rabbit with cameras for eyes is naturally going to alarm people. In the meantime, there are already camera-equipped dolls and toys that kids can talk to and interact with, if you’re not troubled by the idea. Of course, you’ll have to tear them away from that smartphone or tablet first.