LONDON: A leading US cable provider has filed patent for a new set-top box technology that can observe what’s going on in the room and show viewers advertisements based on what it detects.
Verizon suggests it could detect when people are ‘cuddling’ then show ‘a commercial for a romantic getaway vacation, a commercial for a contraceptive or regarding flowers.
To detect the mood of their audience and tailor media content to suit it, the technology would integrate a range of sensors into their products, including thermal imaging cameras, microphones and motion sensors, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.
However, privacy campaigners called the new technology a “privacy nightmare waiting around the corner” and called for it to be reined in “before consumers lose control for good”.
They said it has disturbing echoes of George Orwell’s dystopia 1984, where the population were constantly watched by authorities through cameras integrated in their television screens.
Microsoft also registered a patent recently for technology to allow its Kinect motion sensor to figure out how many people are in front of it then stop playback if it detected more people than the copyright terms allowed.
Verizon’s technology, however, seems to be the first marketing-focused adaptation of the idea to allow the broadcaster to tailor adverts based on what viewers are actually doing, the report said.
“If detection facility detects one or more words spoken by a user (eg, 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,” the patent application said.