IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

That TV You are Viewing Might be Looking at You

This blog related to a Verizon patent application is a follow-up to a previous VDC embedded hardware blog talked about the embedded computing capability being added to signage. The Verizon patent application is for similar applications/technology related to set-top boxes.

If the Verizon technology described in the patent is deployed, that same type of technology mentioned in the previous blog on signage might one day apply in your living room.  The Verizon technology would monitor the TV viewing area using microphones, cameras and or sensors. These sensors could be located in the set-top box, TV, and/or mobile device. Verizon’s overall goal would be to gain situational awareness of the TV viewers to allow targeted advertising.  

Deploying this type of situational awareness technology will have to be done very carefully to avoid offending customers. The deployment will also need to be extremely securely to avoid any risk that the system would be hacked and expose customers to remote eavesdroppers/peepers. The risk that law enforcement would want to leverage such as system for court approved wiretaps can also not be discounted. To be clear, Verizon has only applied for the patent, there is no indication that this is close to an actual product at this point.

Verizon certainly would not be the first company with home intrusive-technology. If you have ever played Xbox360 Kinnect, you have seen that it snaps pictures of game participants. In addition to showing them on-screen after the game action finishes as entertainment, the Xbox 360 transmits some of these back to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform where the data is stripped of identifying elements but is often used by game developers as a part of a feedback process.

Embedded processors and situational intelligence will have an increasing presence in our home lives and certainly some of this is likely to be a bit creepy. In tomorrow’s blog, we will examine how this technology can be deployed for excellent non controversial causes such reducing the number and severity of tragedies like Sandy Hook and the Aurora Theatre.


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