Ever dream of having a robot buddy to hang out and play video games with? The possibility may be available to purchase sooner than you think.
A 2016 patent filed by Sony with the US Patent and Trademark Office has been raising eyebrows since going public on April 16 this year. The design describes an “autonomous robotic companion” that hangs out on the couch and watches video games or movies with its owner. Not weird enough? This robo-buddy was created explicitly for the purpose of reacting to human emotions in real-time using its specially engineered “feeling deduction unit.”
The patent’s design includes language recognition, biometrics, and motion sensors to analyze its human’s emotional state. The robot would essentially read, assess, and then cheer its human during victory or, alternatively, offer sympathy in defeat if. If the patent’s drawings are any indication, it’s also going to be cuddly as hell: a fuzzy-cloud-friend with cartoonishly round hands, no mouth or nose, and anime-like huge eyes.
Why would Sony put so much time into developing and patenting a product like this? There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, Sony’s $3000 robot-dog, Aibo, has been a runaway hit in Japan. Secondly, the latest cultural obsession seems to be with personal assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home. These digital helpers have further revealed a huge market for smart home devices that function in sync with them.
Thirdly, while the gaming community is continuing to grow, part of its customer base is beginning to age too. A 2019 survey by Statistica reported that 21% of gamers in the US are now 50 or older. A cuddly companion designed to mitigate stress for an ageing demographic may be just what the doctor ordered.
That said, this fuzzy buddy’s core directive isn’t all emotional support and understanding. Sony’s patent explains their product could also collect data from its owner, recording a customer’s joy, anger, love, and surprise in response to certain gaming products. It could also potentially send some of this data back to corporate headquarters.
Keep in mind, lots of companies file patents for products that never get past the idea stage, and, for the record, Sony hasn’t made any official announcements yet.
I don’t know about anyone else but I’m getting serious Black Mirror vibes…