Facebook has patented a robot with a camera, microphone and speakers that could follow you around and record your every move.
The creepy device features a ‘head unit’ with a display screen and camera to track your whereabouts.
The automation is described as ‘a self-balancing robot that transitions from a three-wheeled mode to a two-wheeled self-balancing mode’.
It is likely to be presented as a ‘telepresence unit’ to allow video conferencing – although it may have more sinister reconnaissance applications.
This sketch from Facebook’s new patent shows the self-balancing robot. The robot can transition from a three-wheeled mode to a two-wheeled self-balancing mode, with a ‘head unit’ that can include a display screen, camera, speaker and microphones
It’s not yet clear how Facebook intends to use the technology.
One application would be to take photos and videos of people for other Facebook-owned apps, such as WhatsApp or Instagram.
The patent explains that the bot may also have cargo carrying capacities to carry items between different locations.
While tech companies apply for patents on a regular basis, not all concepts in patents are realised.
The robot includes a head unit coupled to the main arm, which is connected to the body, and a robot controller is in the body.
‘In the illustrated embodiment, the head unit can include a display screen, a camera and microphones,’ the detailed description of the patent reads.
‘The robot also includes a speaker.’
Pictured left is the proposed ‘head unit’ of a newly approved Facebook patent for a robot. The head unit could include a display screen, camera, speaker and microphones, potentially to stream your daily activities. Pictured right is a close-up of the head unit
The patent description explains that the camera and microphones receive input in the form of video and sound, and the display screen and speaker provide visual and audio output to a user interacting with the robot.
A ‘robot controller’ contained within the speaker housing can balance the robot on just a pair of drive wheels.
A battery or other suitable power source is located in the body to power the robot controller, sensors, driver motors and other components.
Pictured is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. According to details of a newly approved robot patent for Facebook, the California tech giant may be developing a moving robot with a display screen, camera, speaker and microphones to steams ones activities
The robot also includes light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors, a remote sensing method which uses light in the form of lasers to measure distances, and is also used by autonomous vehicles.
In terms of other potential applications of the bot, Christopher Atkeson, a robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told CNN that the robots could be used for Facebook live videos in amateur sports events.
‘Facebook is about capturing and telling stories,’ Atkeson said.
‘Automated cameramen and sports commentators will play an important part in increasing people’s ability to capture and tell stories.
‘Imagine being a proud parent, coach, or player, and being able to televise high school sports.’
Some however, claim that a product such as this could turn smart phone users into droids who take real-time, ground-level footage of their cities and spy on citizens.
CAN FACEBOOK PREDICT HOW RICH OR POOR YOU ARE?
Facebook recently filed a patent that uses a system to predict users’ socioeconomic class.
The patent application was filed on July 27, 2016, but was only published on February 1, 2018.
It groups users into three categories– working class, middle class and upper class
The system uses a decision tree that asks a variety of questions based on your age group
According to the patent, it would refer to user data like homeownership, internet usage, how many devices they own, education and other factors
Facebook could be trying to guess users’ socioeconomic class in order to serve them more relevant advertisements
It would also improve the firm’s user tracking capabilities
The company has come under fire for user privacy issues and its targeting tactics.