Google seeks to patent all-knowing robot teddy bear that can switch on your John Coltrane album

Anyone who was creeped out by Teddy Ruxpin, the animatronic talking and singing bear that was the must-have toy of the mid-1980s, is probably not going to like what Google is working on in one of its skunkworks labs.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published a patent application by two Google engineers that calls for an anthropomorphic device that could be a “doll or toy that resembles a human, an animal, a mythical creature or an inanimate object.” Drawings attached to the patent application, which was first filed in 2012, show a plush rabbit and teddy bear, each with microphones hidden in their ears and cameras in their eyes designed to meet a human’s gaze and respond to social gestures and voice commands. The engineers later add that the device could also be “a dragon or an alien life form.”

Whatever it looks like, this Internet-connected doll will know a lot about the humans it lives with.

“If the user speaks a command while gazing back at the anthropomorphic device, the anthropomorphic device may access a profile of the user to determine, based on the user’s preference encoded in the profile, how to interpret the command,” says the filing by engineers Daniel Aminzade and Richard DeVaul, who is the “director of rapid evaluation and mad science” at the secretive Google X research labs.

The toy will spend its days in low-power sleep mode, then wake up when it senses you need it by opening its robot eyes, yawning or stretching.

And what’s it all for? Mostly, the robot is there to interpret your cues before deciding if it should turn on your TV, display a 5-day weather forecast, adjust the room temperature or access other media devices.

And if you ask your pet robot to “play late-period John Coltrane,’ says the patent application, it will instruct your media device “to play music recorded by John Coltrane between 1965 and 1967.”

Above: On Thursday, the U.S. patent office published Google’s patent application for “Agent Interfaces for Interactive Electronics that Support Social Cues.” The document included this image of a robot rabbit and teddy bear.


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  • wsanders

    “Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me”