TVs That Feed You Ads Based on What You're Doing on the Sofa
Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Brand X
Remember when you could watch your TV without feeling like it was staring right back at you like one of those haunted house paintings with the eyes cut out? Well, it looks like those days are numbered, because a handful of companies are introducing new products that monitor you while you watch -- and we don't mean "monitor" as in "keeping track of what you've been watching" -- that would hardly be new. We mean these devices literally watch you while you are watching television.
Soon everything in your apartment will be disappointed by you.
Verizon has submitted a patent for a new cable box that uses infrared cameras and microphones to keep track of what you're doing while sitting through syndicated blocks of The Big Bang Theory. According to the patent, the box is programmed to watch for specific activities, such as talking, laughing, singing, and playing an instrument, because it was apparently designed to be placed inside Billy Joel's house. It will then show you commercials based on whatever it is you happen to be doing. For example, if you're cuddling up next to your significant other on the couch, Verizon's cable box will take notice and play some commercials for flowers, romantic getaways, Righteous Brothers CDs, and condoms.
We are in no way making this up. The TV is now your wingman.
"Who are we to argue with Samsung?"
The device can supposedly even track what you're eating and drinking and cater your advertising experience to match -- if you're drinking Pepsi, it'll cue up some Pepsi ads, and if you're drinking Aristocrat straight from the bottle, it will show you a Zoloft commercial.
This isn't even a new idea -- Microsoft filed a patent back in 2010 for a proprietary technology that will scan your emails, text messages, and browsing history, while monitoring your facial expressions and speech via webcam or Kinect (if you have an Xbox) to try and determine your emotional state, delivering ads that they think will appeal to your current mood. For some bizarre reason, the patent specifically outlines a course of advertising suggestions in case the viewer is screaming, which seems to indicate either that Microsoft is trying to tap into the always elusive "murder victim" demographic or that they're anticipating running ads during the Big Bang Theory block we mentioned earlier.
We'll take our chances with the murder.