Google babysitter system that can watch over children and protect them from harm described in patent

It could sound an alarm around the house or even disable electrical outlets, the company says

Aatif Sulleyman
Wednesday 13 December 2017 14:16
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An employee answers phone calls at the switchboard of the Google office in Zurich August 18, 2009
An employee answers phone calls at the switchboard of the Google office in Zurich August 18, 2009

Google has patented an electronic system that’s designed to look after children when their parents or guardians aren’t around.

With the aid of cameras, it would be able to tell when your child was alone in a room, and would also know how long they’d been left unattended for.

The system could also use motion, light, audio and touch sensors, to keep them safe.

Google calls the system a series of “devices and methods for protecting unattended children in the home”.

The patent, which was submitted in 2015, describes how it could work out who was in a room, whether children were in there without their parents, guardians or any adults, and how long they’d been left unattended for.

Once they’d been left in there for a predetermined amount of time, for instance more than five minutes, the system would spring into life, disabling any electrical outlets in the room that could pose a danger to the children and any electronically-controlled doors, to stop them escaping.

It could also bring attention to the situation by instructing lights around the house to flash and an audible warning to sound, saying “[Name] is unattended in the H room” or “Toddler unattended”.

The system could send an email to the children’s parents or guardians too.

“There is a need for improved devices and methods for protecting unattended children in the home or other structure,” the patent reads.

“Here, a computing system disables, or sends instructions to disable, unused electrical outlets and/or door handles in a room in a dwelling in response to a determination that a child-protection condition has been met. This determination is based at least in part on occupancy data for the room.

“The occupancy data may indicate, for example, that a child is alone in a room for at least some amount of time. A safety hazard thus exists that merits disabling of the unused electrical outlets and/or door handles in the room.”

However, there’s no guarantee that Google will bring such a product or collection of products to market.

Earlier this year, Mattel cancelled plans for an “all-in-one voice-controlled smart baby monitor” designed to “comfort, entertain, teach, and assist” young children, amid privacy concerns.

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