What in the world.

Backpack, Backpack

Microsoft is apparently looking to take wearable tech to the next level with a sensor-full, AI-powered backpack patent that would be able to, well, spy on you.

First flagged by the MSPowerUser blog, the backpack patent, which was approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office last week, includes some very strange specs, including that the would-be wearable may be able to detect user speech and make suggestions Siri-style and also, for some reason, have the ability to record and store audio.

As the blog post notes, the as-yet-to-be-named backpack would also potentially have the ability to identify objects around it, give you directions, access the cloud, and talk to other smart devices — because who doesn't want an artificially intelligent Dora the Explorer-style speaking satchel?

If this all has you scratching your head, the newly-approved patent proposal also includes a number of handy-dandy illustrations that showcase some ways the backpack could be used.

Among those illustrations: a person skiing while their backpack tells them which direction is out of bounds, and another shows the wearer standing in front of a poster for a $5 Beatles concert, which presumably they can buy tickets for by saying within range of the wearable's microphones, "Hey, Backpack, buy tickets." (No word on how the backpack will bring John Lennon and George Harrison back from the dead, or how it will manage to bring tickets down to such a historically affordable price point.)

Image via Microsoft.

Past Prototypical

This is not, of course, the first "smart" backpack design we've heard about.

One particularly sad Indiegogo campaign, for instance, managed to raise exactly $0 back in 2020 for another AI-enabled backpack named the "BaqPaq," and some of its specs do indeed seem similar to those that Microsoft proposed with its own patent.

With that context in mind, Microsoft may have been right when the company suggested in its patent application that wearable, AI-powered "digital assistants" may constitute a growing consumer market.

"Digital assistants are becoming more versatile due to advancements in computing," the jargon-laden product description reads. "The present concepts relate to improvements in wearable digital assistants that can perform various tasks for the benefit of users."

Translation: folks want their smart products to do more. With Microsoft's major investments in AI — not to mention the technology being way, way more advanced than it was even just a few years ago, RIP to the BaqPaq — the time might be right for the launch of the smart backpack after all. As always, though, the caveat about patents is that most of them go nowhere.

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