Patently Absurd

Creepy New Verizon Patent Would Let Set-Top Box Serve Condom Ads When It Hears You Having Sex

"Verizon has detected that you are 'cuddling.'"
Soon, he'll be able to hear YOU. (Photo: Fonesea)

Soon, he’ll be able to hear YOU. (Photo: Fonesea)

When last we checked in on creepy technologies that wholly encroach on your sense of personal privacy, Microsoft had registered a patent that would allow the Kinect to detect how many people are in a room and stop playback on a movie if it sensed more people than the copyright allowed. But a new patent filed by Verizon takes that concept a step further by allowing a set-top box to observe what’s going on in your house and serve you ads based on what it hears.

According to the patent, the device will detect “an ambient action performed by a user during the presentation of the media content program” and during the commercial break run ads based on whatever action you’re performing. The patent provides the helpful example of the Verizon box detecting that people are “cuddling” and serving up “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, etc.” Because nothing says romance like one of those awkward Trojan Fire and Ice commercials.

Ars Technica points out that Verizon is far from the first cable provider to patent such technologies; in 2008, Comcast patented a technology that would target programming based on how many people are in a room.

If this is the future, we kind of want off the ride.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com

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