If you think that Google’s tentacles can’t possibly reach further into our private lives than they do already, you are mistaken.
The mad scientists working in Google’s R&D division have come up with yet another means of invading our privacy and tracking our every move, and this time it’s in the form of cuddly — yet dangerously creepy — children’s toys.
Google has applied for a patent on toys that would have the capability of listening to and watching everything that takes place in a person’s home. It could also connect to the internet, control appliances, and interact with children or whoever is in the room.
The company envisions creating teddy bears, rabbits, robots or other similar “toys” that employ voice and face recognition software and can respond to voice commands to turn on a television set or perform other tasks.
The creepy teddy bears could also be designed to be able to turn their heads, make “eye contact,” change facial expressions and generally interact while simultaneously keeping track of everything happening in their surroundings.
Anthropomorphic spy toys
Google’s application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says:
An anthropomorphic device, perhaps in the form factor of a doll or toy, 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 anthropomorphic device may interpret the voice command and map it to a media device command. Then, the anthropomorphic device may transmit the media device command to a media device, instructing the media device to change state.
The text content of the patent application might sound innocent enough at first glance, but if the toys can detect a “voice command” or “social cue” which is then used to create a “media device command,” it means that the toy also has the ability to perform sophisticated surveillance while being able to control any smart devices in the home.
In other words, if that cute little teddy bear on the sofa hears you utter certain keywords or phrases, it could conceivably alert the authorities while shutting down the power to your home. Perhaps it could even lock your doors to detain you until law enforcement arrives!
That might sound a little far-fetched, but as smart home infrastructure becomes more advanced and commonplace — and it almost certainly will — the potential for such a scenario certainly exists.
If you find it hard to believe that your government would use this technology for such activities, keep in mind that almost no one would have ever imagined the government tracking and storing information regarding every single phone call made in the United States, but that is precisely what it is doing right now.
Entities such as Google or Facebook effectively aid the government in spying on its own citizens while these companies’ shareholders reap enormous profits for doing so.
Encouraging children to accept surveillance
Another dangerous aspect of placing toys like this in the home is that it sends a message to children that they will constantly be spied on for the rest of their lives, effectively brainwashing them into accepting surveillance and monitoring at an early age.
As Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, notes:
When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line.
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.
As far as many people are concerned, Google stepped “over the creepy line” long ago, but this new scheme to sneak teddy bear spies into people’s homes removes any lingering doubts regarding their agenda to completely control our lives.