End the Lie

Television could become big brother

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By Brent Daggett

Contributing writer for End the Lie

A promotional image for Samsung Smart TVs (Image credit: Screenshot from Samsung website)

A promotional image for Samsung Smart TVs (Image credit: Screenshot from Samsung website)

As if the inevitability of increased drones patrolling American skies, the Department of Homeland Security using keywords to monitor social networking sites and mannequins spying on consumers are all not Orwellian enough in nature, television could soon have the ability to monitor you as well.

Note: be sure to read Brent’s latest articles, Senator Feinstein to propose new assault weapons ban bill and Smart house technology is not as futuristic as we think

On May 26, 2012, Verizon filed a patent (#20120304206) with the U.S. Patent Office titled  “Methods and Systems For Presenting An Advertisement Associated with and Ambient Action of Use.”

The patent would allow for image as well as audio sensors to detect your activities in your living room when watching television.

Also, the sensors would have facial and profile recognition capabilities and voice recognition technology as well.

This may seem out of the realm of believability, but here are some of the patents claims:

“1. A method comprising: presenting, by a media content presentation system, a media content program comprising an advertisement break; detecting, by the media content presentation system, an ambient action performed by a user during the presentation of the media content program and within a detection zone associated with the media content presentation system; selecting, by the media content presentation system, an advertisement associated with the detected ambient action; and presenting, by the media content presentation system, the selected advertisement during the advertisement break.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the ambient action comprises at least one of eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, singing, humming, cleaning, and playing a musical instrument.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the ambient action comprises an interaction between the user and another user.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein the interaction between the user and the another user comprises at least one of cuddling, fighting, participating in a game or sporting event, and talking.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the ambient action comprises an interaction by the user with a separate mobile device.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the presenting of the selected advertisement comprises directing the separate mobile device to present the selected advertisement.

7. The method of claim 5, wherein the detecting of the ambient action comprises communicating with the separate mobile device to obtain information associated with the user’s interaction with the separate mobile device; and the selecting comprises utilizing the information obtained from the separate mobile device to select the advertisement.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the detecting comprises utilizing at least one of a gesture recognition technology, a profile recognition technology, a facial recognition technology, and a voice recognition technology.

9. The method of claim 1, further comprising: identifying, by the media content presentation system, the user; wherein the selecting of the advertisement is based at least partially on a user profile associated with the identified user.

10. The method of claim 1, further comprising: determining, by the media content presentation system, a mood of the user in accordance with the detected ambient action; wherein the selecting of the advertisement comprises selecting the advertisement based on the determined mood of the user…”

One maybe wondering, how will this concoction be achieved?

Well, the answer exists in set-top box devices.

The patent explains this in more detail.

“The advent of set-top box devices and other media access devices (“access devices”) has provided users with access to a large number and variety of media content choices.  For example, a user may choose to experience a variety of broadcast television programs, pay-per-view services, video-on-demand programming, Internet services, and audio programming via a set-top box device.  Such access devices have also provided service providers (e.g., television providers) with an ability to present advertising to users.  For example, designated advertisement channels may be used to deliver various advertisements to an access device for presentation to one or more users.  In some examples, advertising may be targeted to a specific user or group of users of an access device.”

Verizon is attempting to create advertisements based on profiling every tiny aspect of your daily life.

Even though the technology could be a ways off in terms of implementation, the sophistication of the aforementioned technology is still alarming.

“Of all the privacy-intrusive technology developments that I’ve become aware of in recent years, this one is at the extreme end of the scale, ” said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearing House.

“One of the things that troubles me about this patent, aside from the extraordinary privacy-invasiveness of it, is that there are engineers at Verizon sitting around thinking up such things,” she said.  “It’s quite obvious that for this to have gotten to the patent-filing stage, Verizon engineers, have been allowed–even encouraged–to take privacy-intrusion to the max in the name of advertising dollars.”

However, there could be some hope beyond the horizon.

As reported by Jaikumar Vijayan of Computerworld, the patent was rejected by the U.S. Patent Office with a “non-final” rejection, which essentially means Verizon can decide whether to pursue the patent further or abandon the claims in the patent.

Just because the patent was not approved does not mean Verizon won’t pursue further study on how to make their product come into fruition.

Verizon had this to say to Computerworld:

“Verizon has a well-established track record of respecting it customers’ privacy and protecting their personal information,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement.  “As a company that prizes innovation, Verizon, takes pride in its innovators whose work is represented in our patents and patent applications.”

Verizon is not the only company pursuing the television facial recognition concept.

Samsung is also pursuing this type of technology.

In 2012, Samsung unveiled their plans for Smart TVs that include face recognition and voice and gesture controls, which are tracked by a built in camera.

“The heart of this ecosystem is the TV,” said Boo-Keun Yoon, president of the company’s display business.

Without getting into all the complexities as stated with Verizon, a great video to watch on how Smart TVs work can be seen below:

While big brother TV may still be being perfected, let us remember that CDs replaced records, DVDs took the place of VHS, e-mails have supplanted letters and cell phones have pretty much surpassed landlines.

So with the trends in mind, it’s just a matter of time until Smart TVs with facial and gesture ability replace our current television systems.

If patents of this magnitude are eventually approved or more corporations keep advancing this technology, our privacy rights will no longer exist as we know them and the only rights that will exist will be those of the major corporations that manipulate the populace.

Edited by End the Lie

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5 Responses to Television could become big brother

  1. Guest January 15, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    “A security firm discovered that Samsung’s Smart TV can give hackers access to the device’s built-in camera and microphones, allowing them to watch everything you do.”


    It’s becoming far too close to the book “1984” where TV’s spied on everything you did in your home.

    • Anonymous January 16, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      so creepy wtf

  2. YH January 15, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Great work, thank you!!

  3. Mark Golding January 19, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    This is perhaps the opportune moment to make the best decision in your life! Trash your TV! Make new friends, develop a hobby, explore your environment, do some sport

  4. John January 23, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    No worry’s. I am one of those engineers at these big companies that get forced to write these stupid patents all the time. It’s a way of making our patent quota. Big companies do this to create a larger patent pool than the other company, so they can trade, i.e. I’ll give 1000 of my mostly useless patents if you give me the right to your mostly 1000 patents. It’s a way of not patent stepping and avoiding getting sued in court for patent violations. Yep, our patent and legal system is screwing this country, we (engineers) are forced to spend more time doing this than creating good products.


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