Verizon Files Patent For DVR That Watches Viewers, Delivers Targeted Ads Based On What It Sees

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VERIZON DVR PATENT TO WATCH VIEWERS
Verizon has filed a patent for a DVR that would track viewers' actions and conversations for the purpose of delivering more targeted ads. | Alamy

Watching television tends to be a private affair between you and those on the couch in your living room, but Verizon is looking to change that by creating a DVR that watches you and listens to your conversations.

Fierce Cable was first to report on a patent application filed by Verizon that indicates the company is interested in gleaning more information about its viewers for the purpose of delivering more targeted advertisements.

So what might this spy-like technology look like?

Well, as Fierce Cable points out, a couple who is arguing might see an ad for couples therapy on their television or their mobile phone, while a pair who is cuddling could receive an ad for a weekend getaway.

The patent application, which was filed in May of 2011, states that the technology is intended to detect "ambient actions" of its users, including eating, laughing, talking, singing, humming, cleaning, and playing a musical instrument.

The application also outlines plenty of other things viewers may do with others, including fighting, playing a game, and yes, cuddling.

As Slate notes, the device would also be able to detect things like skin color and accents, as well as the inanimate objects people surround themselves with.

Creepy as the concept may sound, Ars Technica notes that Verizon is among several companies that have applied for patents that lend themselves to observing consumers in their natural habitats.

Google, the publication points out, filed a patent for an interactive TV service that could tell how many people are in a room at a given time.

As a PC Mag blogger argues, there are some hypothetical benefits to such a DVR, but privacy advocates are likely to take serious issue with the device if it became a reality.

"If I'm chatting with someone about possible vacation spots, go ahead and serve up possible hotels and flights. But if I'm on ice cream sandwich No. 3 for the night, will my TV show me Weight Watchers ads? Or Match.com if I'm home on a Saturday night. Ouch," Chloe Albanesius wrote.

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