Sony May Be Working on the Ultimate Home Alone Robot

New Sony Patent Describes Robot Companion to Watch Games, Empathize

Thanks to digital technology, we're alone together, but nothing can quite substitute for in-person companionship. This robot patent might be a future way for us to never be home alone. It might also be way too creepy.

Kid with robot
 Getty Images

Staying home home is hard on everyone, but being alone is doubly difficult. Sony may be working on a new, perfect technological solution: A robot that can sit on the couch with you, watch you play games, and react as you do. At least that's the robot idea described in a patent granted to Sony by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday.

The Details: The patent describes a "feeling deduction unit" that could be a robot with motorized arms, legs and neck joints, or it could be a virtual 3D companion that you view through a virtual reality heads-up display. Real or virtual, the companion could be look like a humanoid robot or a pet like Sony's pricey AIBO robotic dog. In the patent, though, the illustration shows a cloud with arms, legs and wide eyes.

How does this work? First, the robot would join you on the couch to watch you play video games or, perhaps, view sports, movies or TV shows. It would then somehow deduce your feelings and demonstrate either empathy or even opposition. That's right, you'd buy a robot just so it could disagree with you about whether or not Carol Baskin killed her husband.

Sony robot patent
The robot is the cloud-looking one on the right.  USPTO

Wait, will it watch me? The patent goes into some detail as to how this cute little robot can understand our reactions to content. Yes, it (or a sensor placed atop your TV) will monitor through various sensors that track your gaze, hand gestures, heart rate, verbal response, and sweat. So cute and creepy.

When can I get it? Like most patents, the empathetic robot is just an idea. Millions of patents never make it to finalized product. This one was filed in April 2018. In the intervening two years, there haven't been any rumors about Sony building such a robot. Perhaps Sony is waiting to gauge reaction to Samsung's somewhat similar Ballie, which rolls around on the floor. follows you from room to room, and watches you.

Bottom line: Our new social-distancing, stay-at-home reality is making many of us rethink the need for close, interpersonal relationships. Those of us living at home with family may feel luckier than those sheltering alone. The idea of an adorable robot that can hang out on the couch, binge Love is Blind, and react in an "I get you" kind of way may be more compelling than ever.

Via: Gizmodo

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