They Can Hear You Now: Verizon Patent Could Listen In On Customers

Your TV will listen to your conversations with microphones and watch you with 3-D cameras and night vision, so you can be personally targeted with ads. Now remember, folks, it's not just face cream they sell, these companies also sell ads to domestic and foreign interests who want to control your politics and behavior. And, of course, the police and government get access at request.

Verizon has filed a patent for targeting ads that collect information from infrared cameras and microphones that can detect the amount of people and types of conversations happening in customers’ living rooms.

The set-top box technology is not the first of its kind – Comcast patented similar monitoring technology in 2008 that recommended content to users based on people it recognized in the room. Google TV also proposed a patent that would use video and audio recorders to figure out exactly how many people in a room were watching its broadcast. But details including the number of pets in the room or the physical size of people in the room can determine what types of pet food or body wash ads may be presented to the customers.

Verizon filed for the application in May 2011, but the documents were first uncovered by CBS DC last week due to laws stating that all patent applications be published after 18 months.

The Verizon patent gives examples of the DVR’s acute sensitivity in customers’ living rooms: argument sounds prompt ads for marriage counseling, and sounds of “cuddling” prompt ads for contraceptives

“If detection facility detects one or more words spoken by a user (e.g., while talking to another user within the same room or on the telephone), advertising facility may utilize the one or more words spoken by the user to search for and/or select an advertisement associated with the one or more words,” Verizon states in the patent application.

The patent goes on to say that the sensors would also be able to determine if a viewer is exercising, eating, laughing, singing, or playing a musical instrument, and target ads to viewers based on their mood. It also could use sensors to determine what type of pets or inanimate objects are in the room. The system can also “dynamically adjust parental control features” if it detects that young children are present in the room.

There are several types of sensors that can be linked to the targeted advertising system. These include 3D imaging devices, thermographic cameras and microphones.

Users are also given the option to link their smartphones and tablets to the detection system to directly increase its sensitivity. [emphasis mine]

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Replies to This Discussion

The set-top box technology...

Sounds like this would become part of a cable box that's the next level of invasive and creepy, beyond smart TVs! ("I’m terrified of my new TV: Why I’m scared to turn this thing on - ..." mentioned last year in Geek & Nerd Haven comments)

All the more reason to consider cutting the cable and getting movies and shows through internet streaming services. (But it turns out that at least one such service was hijacking your computer and using your electricity to mine bitcoin for their benefit. At least that's not unrestrained Big Brotherism.)

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