These Wild New DVRs Will Spy On Your Living Room With Cameras And Microphones | Dec 7, 2012

by Laura Stampler

small_all-seeing-eyeGoogle TV, Microsoft, Comcast, and now Verizon have all submitted patent applications to create televisions and DVRs that will watch you as you watch TV. 

Earlier this month, news came out that Verizon applied for a patent to create a DVR sometime in the future that has cameras and microphones that can see and hear what you’re doing and saying, while watching TV. Sounds, actions, food choices, and your ethnicity — all tracked by the DVR — will influence what you see in your commercial breaks.

According to the patent application, here are the ways you can be targeted:

  • If your DVR hears you getting frisky on the couch, it will input terms like “romance, love, cuddle” into the system and play “a commercial for a romantic getaway vacation, a commercial for a contraceptive, a commercial for flowers, a commercial including a trailer for an upcoming romantic comedy movie.”
  • “Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects that a couple is arguing/fighting with each other, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated marriage/relationship counseling.”
  • Your DVR will be able to know what kind of beer you’re drinking: “If detection facility 104 detects a particular object (e.g., a Budweiser can) within a user’s surroundings, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated with the detected object (e.g., a Budweiser commercial).”
  • If you seem stressed, to be considerate the DVR will show you an ad for “aromatherapy candles.”

The DVR will also build a profile about you, picking up on your  “preferences, traits, tendencies.”

While some in the media have gone crazy at the idea of a Big Brother-like device entering your living room, Verizon thinks that this is an overreaction. According to a statement sent to BI, “Articles focusing on what is a patent application were highly speculative. 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, but such futuristic patent filings by innovators are routine.”

A source familiar with the Verizon patent process told Business Insider that given the other contenders, it’s very remote that Verizon would win the bid.

In fact, according to the patent’s transaction history, the application was given a non-final rejection days before the DVR was first reported on by Fierce Cable.

. . .
Verizon Filed Big Brother Patent, For Ads

United States Patent Application     
Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User

Verizon Plays Big Brother by Watching You Watch TV

2 responses to “These Wild New DVRs Will Spy On Your Living Room With Cameras And Microphones

  1. I don’t think ANYONE has the right to SPY on citizens in their own home, regardless of what they claim the applications are meant for, they could use this kind of software/hardware for purposes that are not honest. I certainly DO NOT want a DVR in my home that is watching me watch TV or anything else as far as that goes, and i would sue the hell out of anyone who violated my civil rights without thinking twice, I would bankrupt that company and never lose a minutes sleep over it. Who do these people think they are that they can violate our American civil rights without consequences??? This is a sign of what we should be aware of in the future, it’s only going to get worse, and ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS must remain vigilant.

  2. You are correct. The situation is getting worse and more Orwellian by the day. And there is no one in Washington who is going to save us, so think about the next step.

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