Verizon Patent Helps Deliver Relevant Ads By Eavesdropping Conversations

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News Posted: Wed, Dec 5 2012 12:29 AM

It's a patent that sounds like a plot description for a science-fiction movie or the result of Apple's Siri and Google's AdSense mating. With it, Verizon could program its set-top boxes to survey a room to determine relevant ads to display either on your television or mobile phone. Sound a bit scary? It kind of is.

Verizon's technology can work a variety of ways. For starters, it can listen in on conversations - whether it be with someone else in the room or on the phone - and pick out keywords that would aide it in its duties. In reality, it's simple stuff in this day and age, but that doesn't make it any less off-putting. Imagine arguing with your significant other and then seeing marriage counseling ads on the TV - or better, cuddling and then seeing ads for contraceptives!

For those who've begun to search the top of this page for a publishing date, let me assure you that this is not April 1.

Verizon will also be able to determine your mood; happy, sad, excited or depressed - it'll know. In fact, it may determine you're annoyed at its ability to read your mind and then send the definition of "Irony" straight to your mobile phone.

FiOS Set Top Box

You don't likely need yet another reason to be a little wary of this technology, but I'll give you one. These set-top boxes can also be configured with infrared sensors that draw outlines of inanimate objects in the room along with pets. The possibilities for what it can surmise about you, your family and even your room are endless.

If there's an upside to any of this, it's that Verizon wouldn't be able to enable this sort of functionality without your permission, though if it takes the route so many companies do and bury that information deep into a EULA, you can be sure it won't go unnoticed for too long.

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Dorkstar replied on Wed, Dec 5 2012 11:04 AM

Errr. This is scary on many different levels. It's obvious that our electronic security isn't at a place where it needs to be today. While i'm not big on privacy rights etc, I can just see this being the number #1 object thrown through a window when grandpa finds out what its doing.

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RWilliams replied on Wed, Dec 5 2012 11:36 AM

On the upside, if grandpa chucks the set-top out the window, it'll know who did it!

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sackyhack replied on Wed, Dec 5 2012 11:49 AM

Hmm, I feel like pretty soon my set-top box is going to start asking me "does this one have a soul, master?", and if I give it an answer it doesn't like it'll tell all my friends that I frequently watch and sing along with Glee.

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lipe123 replied on Wed, Dec 5 2012 12:43 PM

LOL imagine your kids yelling "I'm going to kill you!" at each other and then minutes later ads about guns/knives and plastic sheeting shows up on tv followed by the cops stopping outside your home.

I think its really about time that advertising takes a step back instead of constantly trying to take over everything.

I swear in our future skynet will be an advertising program and we'll all be enslaved by robots trying to sell us viagra and fake rolex watches.

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lipe123:

LOL imagine your kids yelling "I'm going to kill you!" at each other and then minutes later ads about guns/knives and plastic sheeting shows up on tv followed by the cops stopping outside your home.

I think its really about time that advertising takes a step back instead of constantly trying to take over everything.

I swear in our future skynet will be an advertising program and we'll all be enslaved by robots trying to sell us viagra and fake rolex watches.

Haha, I was just wondering if you're in the living room talking dirty to your spouse is your local lingerie store ad's are going to show up, or maybe those late night phone sex line ads.

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jeanius replied on Wed, Dec 5 2012 7:17 PM

Verizon will lose customers in droves. When that happens, they will also lose their advertisers, making the entire venture one big flop. I'll go back to Comcast. I hope all of you have other choices.

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So what's new? Your Xbox listens to you and is connected to the Internet. It understands speech-- that's how it obeys voice commands. Smart TVs are internet-connected and many use speech recognition. See "Voice control of your TV: Is it listening to everything you say?" in my year-ago Meisel-on-Mobile blog.

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OSunday replied on Thu, Dec 6 2012 12:34 AM

1984 Dystopia here we come!

Although our other options apparently aren't all the innocent either!

A multitude of companies are looking to play "Big Brother" ;

Google patented a Google TV add on that can recognize and count how many people are in the room and watching TV and Comcast patented a camera in '08 with facial recognition that displays advertisements catered to that viewers television presence!

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Dorkstar replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 11:34 AM

OSunday:

1984 Dystopia here we come!

Although our other options apparently aren't all the innocent either!

A multitude of companies are looking to play "Big Brother" ;

Google patented a Google TV add on that can recognize and count how many people are in the room and watching TV and Comcast patented a camera in '08 with facial recognition that displays advertisements catered to that viewers television presence!

Damn, I forgotten all about that.  They should just do it like pandora, thumbs down if you don't like this commerical and we'll never play it again.

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RWilliams replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 12:05 PM

Haha, that'd be awesome!

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