As a child, were you the boss of all your stuffed animals? Did you control Mr. Bear and Mr. Rabbit according to your whims? Well, those were the good days because the tables have turned – all thanks to Google.
Between targeted advertising, tailored search results and the very detailed Google maps, you might think the Internet giant already knows too much about you.
However, these smart new toys take spying to the next level. Containing microphones, speakers, cameras, motors and wireless connections, they are capable of controlling a wide range of devices, including TVs, DVD players, light switches and home thermostats.
Just sitting there and inspiring a child's imagination is mere child's play for these toys. The high-tech device can also “lift its head and/or focus its gaze on the user” along with “tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm.” The toy's facial expressions include curiosity, boredom, interest and surprise, just to name a few.
The drawing in the patent shows that the toy resembles a teddy bear or a bunny rabbit. But other alternatives could include dragons or even aliens.
Why the ordinary shape for an extraordinary toy? The patent says, “Young children might find these forms to be attractive. However, individuals of all ages may find interacting with these anthropomorphic devices to be more natural than interacting with traditional types of user interfaces.”
Some are predicting that the toys will be so popular that consumers might want to place them all around their houses – including their bedrooms, all because they seem to be so convenient. But who wants a recording device in the bedroom?
Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, isn't impressed.
"The privacy concerns are clear when devices have the capacity to record conversations and log activity. When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy lines," she said. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy. It is simply unnecessary."
There's a chance the patent application might not develop to an actual product, but just in case, better prepare for the high-tech teddy bear invasion.