But Google might take it one step further, with plans for a baby monitor that, rather than simply letting you know your baby has woken up, will let you know when they’re considering it.
The tech giant has filed for a patent on AI technology that would use eye-tracking, audio cues and an ever-growing database of other babies’ behaviours to predict up to 10 minutes before Junior is likely to wake up.
The recent patent filing states, according to NBC: “While a baby’s cry may alert his parents to the baby being in distress, sometimes a baby will not audibly indicate his distress. For example, if the baby is tossing in his sleep, is awake and moving around when the baby is expected to be asleep, or worse, is choking, tangled in bedding, or otherwise is in a dangerous position, the baby is in distress but may not be crying. Therefore, in some circumstances, a parent may wish to be alerted to the occurrence of such a worrisome situation.”
While this is obviously incredibly clever, and likely to be welcomed by some parents (particularly if their children are unwell or have conditions which require additional monitoring), there may be some discomfort around the idea of a machine studying your child as they sleep – until it knows their patterns perfectly.
Google patents a lot of technology – some of which ends up making it to market and some which doesn’t. Realistically, even if it does end up bringing this out, there’ll be a few years of development before it hits shelves.
Is it ingenious or creepy? Or... both? We seem to be slowly filling our homes with devices designed to respond to everything we do – but it is pretty great to shout commands into your kitchen and receive immediate help from a virtual assistant. What if the AI in this sleep monitor could go further though, and learn how to soothe your baby? The future truly is bonkers.
When asked about the patent, a spokesperson for Google told CNN: “We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications.”