Verizon Gets Creepy; Seeks Patent for a DVR That Can Monitor Cuddling

dgstorm

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This sounds like some bizarre episode of the X-Files, but Verizon just filed for a creepy patent. Apparently, their "innovative" R&D team came up with a unique idea. They want to patent a DVR with a camera that can monitor "ambient actions" like people singing, fighting, or even cuddling. It will then send you "appropriate" advertising based upon your behavior.

verizon-uspto-cuddly-dvr-patent.png

Interestingly the idea of behavioral monitoring is nothing new in the tech world. Even Comcast, Microsoft and Google have toyed around with the concept. However, their ideas centered around making the user experience more useful for their customers, like resuming a show where you left off or locking out certain TV programming for kids. Verizon's new idea focuses squarely on delivering advertising content directly to consumers. In fact, one example was directly related to the "cuddling" example above, and has the DVR sending "contraceptive commercials" when folks are getting snuggly. Here's a quote with some additional detail,

But in Verizon's idea, the creepiness outweighs the useful by a good margin. It's solely directed at selecting advertising, and has nothing to do with improving the user experience or adding functionality.

Not only that, but the actions it looks for seem odd. It would be understandable, if still a little weird, to send ads targeted to couples if it detected there were two people sitting close together. But Verizon's system goes one step further and detects whether those two might be "cuddling," and then specifically suggests "a commercial for a contraceptive" as a likely one to run.

Few people would submit to such scrutiny anyway, even if they were assured that the information was confidential. And while basing ads on things like reading or cooking wouldn't be as creepy, the other actions described don't even make sense. Playing an instrument, participating in a sport, fighting — these are things people do when they aren't paying attention to the screen.

It's also worth noting that Verizon's idea chooses ads for the "commercial break" — the very thing people are trying to get away from when they buy a DVR.

While this odd patent easily instigates head scratching, at least we can be comforted by the fact that almost no consumer would consent to something like this. Chalk this one up to, "What the heck were they thinking?"

Sidenote: The source of this article reached out to Verizon and actually received a response from them on the subject. Here it is below,

"Verizon has a well-established track record of respecting its customers’ privacy and protecting their personal information. As a company that prizes innovation, Verizon takes pride in its innovators whose work is represented in our patents and patent applications. While we do not comment on pending patent applications, such futuristic patent filings by innovators are routine." ~Verizon

Somehow, that statement still doesn't entice one to "cuddle up" with this idea...

Thanks for the tip, justin82!

Source: NBCNews
 
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justin82

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seems creepish to me
 

ambrown

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Verizon just keeps pushing the envelope don't they? Makes me want to leave even more. They changed their plans to make more money off people, and they took away the credit toward a new phone and replaced it with a $30 fee, I'm sure they're already monitoring users phones (remember Carrier IQ? Verizon didn't use it, but they did employ "similar strategies" to monitor users habits), and now they want to know about my romantic life and just how often I get physical. Geez, they could give Google a run for their money for the creepiest spying on consumers practices.

Sent from my DROID2
 

lloydstrans

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Verizon figures NSA doesn't have enough fodder to interpret, and what better way if getting into the homes of people.
 
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Verizon just keeps pushing the envelope don't they? Makes me want to leave even more. They changed their plans to make more money off people, and they took away the credit toward a new phone and replaced it with a $30 fee, I'm sure they're already monitoring users phones (remember Carrier IQ? Verizon didn't use it, but they did employ "similar strategies" to monitor users habits), and now they want to know about my romantic life and just how often I get physical. Geez, they could give Google a run for their money for the creepiest spying on consumers practices.

Sent from my DROID2

Verizon can do that because they are the best network. It sucks but its true. Plus from what I gathered, we can't have are credit towards a new phone because all of the apple egg heads wanted the iPhone on that network and iPhone made Verizon dismiss the credits. Now charging a fee, that was all vzw greed.

Sent on my Moto RAZR HD while I'm in class, in a meeting, in a waiting room, or in the bathroom
 

DoctorDeDroid

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Perhaps Verizon should change its name from VZW to PRU ... Perverts R Us

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johnomaz

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Verizon just keeps pushing the envelope don't they? Makes me want to leave even more. They changed their plans to make more money off people, and they took away the credit toward a new phone and replaced it with a $30 fee, I'm sure they're already monitoring users phones (remember Carrier IQ? Verizon didn't use it, but they did employ "similar strategies" to monitor users habits), and now they want to know about my romantic life and just how often I get physical. Geez, they could give Google a run for their money for the creepiest spying on consumers practices.

Sent from my DROID2

I did leave and you know what, I don't miss them at all. I'm happily on AT&T with my LTE and unlocked S3. Turns out, I never used more than 3 gigs of data which is how much AT&T offers on their $30/month plan. Screw Verizon and their windowless van approach to things.
 

liftedplane

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I did leave and you know what, I don't miss them at all. I'm happily on AT&T with my LTE and unlocked S3. Turns out, I never used more than 3 gigs of data which is how much AT&T offers on their $30/month plan. Screw Verizon and their windowless van approach to things.

I honestly hope sprint really picks it up and runs... and keeps unlimited data. it would absolutely give other carriers a reason.

if no one uses more than three gb a month then why cap it? oh.... for the few of us who do. Maybe some kind of rollover on data like they have on minutes. I have a friend who has like 400 minutes a month with something like 4500 rollover on att... he'll never ever use them.
 

52brandon

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I gotta admit, if I could set my TV to automatically cue Bloodhound Gang when I make a move on my chick, I would definitely get a laugh out of it
 

FoxKat

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Hey folks, a small swatch of black electrical tape over the lens of the camera, and you can get as snuggly as you want without the Verizon Creeper-peeper watching! :biggrin:
 

swc2001

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"Welcome John Anderton come to the Gap today!!" Sounds a little too much like "Minority Report" to me. Pretty soon they will try the i-dents that were in that movie..... I can only imagine it will be from Apple the Socialist tech maker!!
 
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