WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Verizon has filed a patent for targeting ads that collect information from infrared cameras and microphones that can detect the amount of people and types of conversations happening in customers’ living rooms. The set-top box technology is not the first of its kind – Comcast patented similar monitoring technology in 2008 that recommended content to users based on people it recognized in the room. Google TV also proposed a patent that would use video and audio recorders to figure out exactly how many people in a room were watching its broadcast.

Verizon filed for the application in May 2011, but the report was published last week due to laws stating that all patent applications be published after 18 months.

FierceCable first publicized the Verizon patent that gives examples of the DVR’s acute sensitivity in customers’ living rooms: argument sounds prompt ads for marriage counseling, and sounds of “cuddling” prompt ads for contraceptives.

“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,” Verizon states in the patent application. Users are also given the option to link their smartphones and tablets to the detection system to directly increase its sensitivity.

As the old saying goes…you have to invite the demon in.

  1. LibertyLover says:

    I’m not technologically illiterate but I’m not sure if I would know if something I bought had this technology in it.

    How would I know?

    And how would I disable it? A drop of superglue on the speaker and on the lens?

    • noname says:

      “A drop of superglue on the speaker and on the lens?”

      would be the smart thing to do.

      You know, they will see it as a benefit and service. Given how smart the typical American is, they will buy it (literally, by paying extra for the “service” capable set-top box)!

      • gquaglia says:

        They allow Progressive insurance to black box every move they do in their car, some won’t care and allow this if it saves them a few bucks.

        • noname says:

          Myself, I have auto insurance through USAA; which I have always found, much cheaper and better than any other insurance out there and they don’t require a black box!

          These deals companies offer, are mostly TV commercial driven illusions!

          Companies only need to get customers to “believe” they are saving money, to their business and not actually save customer money!

          Getting Americans to “believe” what isn’t true is a science (Psychology of Self-Deception and illusions), profitable and big business!

          A business doesn’t have to lie, indeed its bad business to lie when getting a customer to “believe” they are getting a savings. Business only has to get a customer to associate “savings” with the product they are selling.

          How many “SALE” signs do you see when you drive through town? Have you pulled into a store with a “SALE” sign and paid more than you should of? Did they legally lie? No they didn’t lie, they implied a “SALE” and you “believed” there was a savings because you wanted too! Whose fault is that?

          The tricks are many, yet people (either because they are busy or lazy) don’t compare prices before buying!

          To know a lie, you first must know the truth!

          • noname says:

            Hum, pp(poor pedro) asking about pre-existing condition for car insurance?

            Where do you shop? Why would they be asking about your pre-existing conditions?

            Your handicap deformities must be really really obvious and begs the question if your safe to drive! Maybe it’s the many prior accidents you had being related to your congenital brain defects!

            poor pitiful pedro, now I understand why you’re so angry all the time. Life just hasn’t been good or fair to you!

          • noname says:

            Let me test that hypothesis of yours: pp “will not be affected by” my “writing… until” I “post the same thing 3 times”

            To prove your point pp, if this doesn’t work, I will have to repeat the experiment ~30 times to get a statistically valid sample size!

            3rd re-post:

            …..it always the same vacuous skull that makes you, you!

            Facts are facts and your dimwittedness begs the question, was it because you where dropped on the head at birth?

            You’re a funny joke that gets funnier each time it’s told, like that “I can’t get it in my head” joke.

  2. spsffan says:

    A bit of electrical tape for the lens, a drop of glue for the microphone should do the trick. Oh, I guess you could use feces if you really felt like it 🙂

    Better yet, get your television from an antenna as Dog intended. It is against my religion (Jack Benny Atheist) to pay for television. Actually, for the most part, television is a Giffen Good….less is better than more!

    • MikeN says:

      You will be billed extra if the equipment is not functioning properly, as Dish Network does if you dfo not connect a phone line.

      Hate to break it to you, but the cable companies already snoop through their set top boxes, including the DVR. They know what you are recording, how often you watch, and what scenes you are replaying. This is how TIVO could tell us how many people replayed Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl.

      • LibertyLover says:

        That I don’t really mind. I just don’t want the machine to watch me scratch my ass and listen to me fart when I’m watching my Buffy reruns.

        • msbpodcast says:

          … watch me scratch my ass and listen to me fart when I’m watching …

          That’s specifically when I’d want the machine to hear me. 🙂

          I get my rare TV signal OTA and I put sliding covers over all my devices senses. I TNO (Trust No One.)

          Besides that, I have friends who would break the fibre and cable peeping tom’s heads, and algorithms, I they listened in and tried to make sense out any of the sights and noises that might make it past my computers’ controls. 🙂

      • McCullough says:

        “Dish Network does if you do not connect a phone line.”

        True, and it’s one of the reasons I dumped Dish network and why I don’t own a TIVO.

        It will be impossible to escape soon, with the installation of smart meters, and wireless devices in every appliance. We live in a fucking prison now and it’s going to get worse.

        Sorry, but I won’t stop bitching about it.

        • noname says:

          Just think of the incredible hacking opportunities!

          WiFi smart meters can be jammed and a customer beneficial signal sent in place of the companies signal.

          I am sure there are other customer beneficial possibilities still to be thought of!

          • LibertyLover says:

            It’s more sinister than that. If someone could hack your meter readings, they would know when you are aren’t home.

            Water usage is down, electricity usage is down, etc.

          • noname says:

            In the words of the legendary Dr. Zachary Smith:
            “We’re doomed!”
            “Give my regards to oblivion.”
            “Sadly I fear you have far more dire deeds in store for you.”
            “Nothing good can come of this.”
            “Oh, the pain the pain.”

      • spsffan says:

        I don’t have a DVR. I don’t have a set top box. I don’t have a phone line connected to my television.

        I have an antenna, and I DO not and WILL not pay for television. I have better things to do.

  3. UncDon says:

    Let’s not forget the unmarked Econoline van down the street that’s filled with secret electronics and a well-paid psychic to spy on everything else you’re doing.

  4. MikeN says:

    Just build your own DVR. It will save you the $10 a month as well.

  5. Dallas says:

    I welcome the advances to improve user experiences and to cater to my wants and needs.

    • McCullough says:

      Dallas, somehow your use (overuse) of the word sheeple is starting to make sense now.

      • Dallas says:

        Sorry you have technophobia or maybe you’re a luddite.

        It’s all good. I don’t discriminate.

        • McCullough says:

          No Dallas, I am just awake and aware.

          You know, when I was in high school, 1984 was required reading. Smart teacher that was. You should give it a read.

          • Dallas says:

            Your fear of the inevitable march of technology is both comical and futile. I value my time and convenience more.

            I want my commercials to feature hunky guys selling me vacation trips and Sea Salt Caramel ice cream. You, will get the generic tampon commercial. Haha.

            If u own a credit card, cellphone and Internet, you’re already screwed. You should be more concerned with a Teabagger Dude in government.

          • Dallas says:


            You you’ve caught Pedrophelia. – say ‘yawn’ when unable to defend one’s irrational views

          • noname says:

            pp(poor pedro) doesn’t like me! Imagine the horror it causes me.

            Yes pp, its great fun and cheap entertainment watching you troll your crush, dallas. It’s a crazy strong crush.

            Is it the name you like? Is it intelligence envy you have? Maybe you’re just lonely? What does dallas have and makes you want so bad, you hurt for it?

            Your crazy strong dallas crush is cheap entertainment for all. Please don’t stop. 🙂 🙂

          • noname says:

            Well pp your hypothesis: pp “will not be affected by” my “writing… until” I “post the same thing 3 times”

            Doesn’t appear to work!

            To be fair to you and to prove your point, a statically valid sample size of ~30 is need to prove or disprove the null hypothesis!

            2nd-1st re-post:

            …..it always the same vacuous skull that makes you, you!

            Facts are facts and your dimwittedness begs the question, was it because you where dropped on the head at birth?

            You’re a funny joke that gets funnier each time it’s told, like that “I can’t get it in my head” joke.

  6. MartinJJ says:

    I see a new market appear for opening up equipment and soldering in switches to physically turn off microphones and cameras. Or just ripping them out. Trusting software hacks will be a thing of the past.

  7. john says:


    • gquaglia says:

      You got, if Verizon and advertisers can snoop, you damn well bet the government will. I was just reading the story from the NSA whistleblowers that stated the government records everything.
      Have an argument with your wife, the PD suddenly shows up. Make a disparaging comment about the President in your living room and the Secret Service will be at the door, all in the name of safety and security of course.

  8. Cap'nKangaroo says:

    I wonder what happens if you have this and repeatedly talk about AT&T, Sprint, or Comcast. Wonder if Verizon would show you a little love, like a half-price month to keep you in the fold?

    But my first idea was bring on true IPTV and tell all of them, “Just the bits, ma’am. Just the bits.”

  9. Jake says:


    So true.


  10. MikeN says:

    Government to mandate event data recorders on all cars.

  11. Glenn E. says:

    So next they’ll need a law passed that makes it illegal to turn off your Tv and provider’s box. Or tamper with it in any way. If not a law, then a breach of your contract with your provider, punishable with stiff penalties. Reminds me a lot of the Max Headroom series.

    The other patents about listening in on what viewers are saying, for commerce sake of course, reminds me of that “The Prisoner” BBC Tv series, from the 1960s. In “The Village” everyone’s home Tv, watched them. Sound systems had no user controls. Watch it on youtube, some time.

    All the doors open before you even move toward them to leave a room. Because they’re monitoring what’s said by any occupants. Letting you know, that they know, where you’re thinking of going. Remember, motion sensor devices didn’t exist back then, like they do now. So maybe the subtle meaning of auto-opening doors, is lost on most viewers today. But it was a totally new idea, in 1966. As were the cordless (dial-less) phones, in the Village. And computerized medical diagnosis. Also seen in the first episode.

    When a giant white ball shows up, and roars at you. We’re officially there! I wonder how they’re going to sell that one to us? But for now, they just want to monitor your life, to make media ads more focused. Oh, sure. No other purpose is in the waiting. No Big Brother here. Yet.

    • MikeN says:

      No they’ll just charge you less for the service.

      It’s government that can mandate you buy services for the public benefit, at least according to judges appointed by Democrats. Judges appointed by Republicans not so much, though they might say you can tax people who don’t do what the government wants.

  12. Glenn E. says:

    I like the name of the CBS item reporter. Benjamin Fearnow. Yeah, Fear Now, is right! Was that odd coincidence, or a clever fake name?

  13. Dallas says:

    So what? He sees you when you’re sleeping … he knows when you’re awake…

    Why do teapublicans hate Santa?


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