Advertisements that use eye tracking and facial recognition to target ads toward consumers appear to be an inevitable part of the future of public spaces. But if one major cable and wireless provider has its way, this innovation could eventually make it into your living room.
It was recently revealed that Verizon has filed a patent for a system it describes as "Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User." The system would use cameras, microphones, and thermal sensors to detect whether a person is engaged in activities such as eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, cuddling, or fighting, and then serve them the most appropriate advertisements.
Beyond detecting just simple actions and ambient sounds, Verizon's system would also be designed to detect when certain key words are spoken, as well as when specific objects associated with an advertisement are in the system's detection zone. The patent description even delves into a bit of sci-fi by providing this slightly Orwellian scenario:
"For example, the user may be singing or humming a generally 'happy' song. In response, detection facility 104 may determine that the user is in a cheerful mood. Accordingly, one or more advertisements may be selected for presentation to the user that are configured to target happy people."
Verizon has not announced the physical existence or current development of a system like this, so the patent may simply be a defensive move against future obsolescence as more tech-oriented companies like Google and Apple inevitably work on similar solutions of their own.