New DVR Will Record Viewers Speech and Activity

Verizon has filed a patent on a new digital video recorder (DVR) that will record the speech and movement of viewers in an effort to “target advertisements” to their specific interests, says an article at Yahoo News.

In the 2011 patent filing by Verizon, which was just released, the company states:

“If detection facility detects one or more words spoken by a user (e.g., while talking to another user within the same room or on the telephone), advertising facility may utilize the one or more words spoken by the user to search for and/or select an advertisement associated with the one or more words.”

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Comcast filed a similar patent in 2008, but it’s less specific than this targeted technology.

While it may be simple to attempt to paint this as something harmless, or without implications, the examples given by Verizon on how it works, ought to send chills up the spine of anyone using a DVR:

Sounds of couples arguing would trigger ads for marriage counseling while sounds of “cuddling” would prompt ads for contraceptives.

The patent filing listed 20 separate examples of when the DVR technology could be used for the application, which is entitled, “Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User.”

No word on whether or not this gathered information would be sold to advertisers, the government or other groups or people. However, with this technology available, one can safely assume that any information gathered will not be limited to targeting television advertisements. After all, nearly all Americans pay for TV service. What a great way to break a window into the living rooms of families across the nation.

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