Verizon is moving into the targeted ad business in a big way. The wireless carrier announced a new campaign yesterday called Verizon Selects that would allow them to share a customer's info with advertisers. Now the carrier has patented a device that makes its previous tracking efforts seem sophomorish in comparison.
Ars Technica reports that Verizon has just filed a patent for a DVR that comes equipped with a camera and mic. What would the camera be used for? It would spy on you day and night, collect information about your habits and deliver targeted ads based upon that information. It's an advertiser's dream come true, and everybody else's worst Orwellian nightmare.
The patent filing lists a number of actions and objects that the camera and mic would be able to detect. It would be used to detect the usual objects like the number of people present and what they're saying and doing. It goes into some weirder territory later on, however, when it says that they would want it to detect pets or the products being used by people, like a specific brand of chips.
Ars points to a particular example of how a camera and mic would be used in conjunction to deliver targeted ads to a couple. If the mic picks up sounds of fighting, it would deliver an ad for relationship counseling. Likewise, sounds of cuddling would present an ad for contraceptives.
Realistically speaking, this kind of tech is likely to never make it to market. US citizens have an expectation of privacy, and blatantly infringing upon that makes people angry. Verizon, or anybody else who has patented similar technologies, could sneak it to market, but the potential backlash is just too risky.