TV #Surveillance: Your Verizon TV is Watching You! -- And then Pushing Products & Services.

posted Jan 12, 2013, 5:54 AM by Peter Joseph Moons
Verizon patents targeted advertising method that determines if viewers are laughing, cuddling, sleeping or singing. - FierceCable.

Verizon Patent - From FierceCable -
Verizon Patent Schematic per FierceCable.

Comments by Peter Joseph Moons:

Verizon company has secured a patent that will offer advertising to consumers based on voice and imagery recorded from a television.  The process certainly sounds like intuitive advertising, offering customers focused products based on perceived need; however, the advertisements are likely going to appear very eerie at first.  Imagine sitting in the room with a TV connected to this Verizon service and you are making a call to a plumber to fix a leaky pipe in your home.  As you are talking about your needs to the plumber, advertisements for plumbers start appearing on the TV, YouTube videos begin playing, and links pop up on your TV saying "Call Joe the Plumber right now!"  Without having asked anything of your Verizon TV service regarding plumbers, you may feel uneasiness.  However, after you become accustomed to the TV watching you, learning your needs,and offering solutions or options, you may come to rely on the service.  What may become interesting is the use of this system in hospitals or health clinics to screen individuals based on physiological characteristics captured by the TV system: paleness, coughing, fever, complaints of pain all can be sensed, databased, and cataloged.

However, with the Verizon TV service capturing people's conversations and images in real-time, there may be no limit where this information could go.  Besides monetizing its consumers' activities and behavior, as gleaned from within the capture area of the sensors, this service could seemingly be susceptible to manipulation by criminal enterprises or be required to allow governments to access the real-time information.  In effect, Big Brother could be in your living room, bedroom, or entertainment room.  This brings to mind the old Yakov Smirnoff joke from the 1980's: "In Soviet Russia, you don't watch TV.  TV watches you!"

Beyond the mere offering of products and services to consumers, Verizon could build a database of its consumers linking shows watched, mood of consumers at different times of day or night, other products or services consumed while within the the capture are of the TV sensors.  All of this big data goes into understanding the individual consumer.  While the offering of services is not unlike Facebook offering product links or Google recommending search results, the fact that this business tactic is offered on another medium, television, will at first seem odd or even unsettling, but will eventually become mainstream.  Verizon has scored a win with this patent, but there will be secondary and tertiary effects on the freedom of the individual who is in the capture area of this television system.

Government Control Factor: 0 (Now, but has great potential for increasing over time with implementation.)  Freedom Factor: Still 10.