A patent application from Verizon describes a DVR set-top box that would watch the living room for “ambient actions” like people singing, fighting, or even “cuddling.” It would then choose an appropriate ad to display in the programming based on its analysis.
The patent, filed May 26, 2011, is entitled “Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User.” The idea is simple enough: using a built-in camera, the DVR would check that state of the people watching, and make changes to advertising based on that, reports NBC News.
It’s only one of many TVs now that can watch you back; The camera-equipped Kinect has been a hugely popular accessory for the Xbox 360, and many TVs come with HD webcams built-in for video chatting and other purposes.
Verizon has issued a statement regarding the patent: “Verizon has a well-established track record of respecting its customers’ privacy and protecting their personal information. As a company that prizes innovation, Verizon takes pride in its innovators whose work is represented in our patents and patent applications. While we do not comment on pending patent applications, such futuristic patent filings by innovators are routine.”
RBR-TVBR observation: As the patent filing used as an example, a “cuddling” couple could be sent an ad for a condom. We can see it now: The first time a couple got that ad, or someone crying gets a tissue spot, the set-top box would soon end up covered in duct tape to hide the Big Brother cameras. We’re going to go ahead and say it’s understandable that Verizon would want to patent things that have value, such as this. The way it could eventually be marketed is users agree to be “probed” in exchange for cheaper monthly bills or free programming that others have to pay for.