Google wants to sneak in your bedroom, patents relevant tech
Just like Facebook, Google also mines your data for targeted advertising. The company builds a profile according to your browsing habits, location (and other factors) and uses that information to deliver customized ads. But now, as it appears, the search giant plans to get even more intimate and mine data right from your bedroom. Here's how that could happen.
Smart-home technologies for eavesdropping
Google has filed a couple of patents describing smart-home technologies that could analyze your lifestyle and behavior at home. The idea is just the same, but instead of looking at what you're doing on the internet, the envisioned devices would look at your activity at home. Then, it would use this information to deliver ads according to your likes, dislikes, and other life choices.
Smart-home system to analyze your surroundings
The first patent describes a smart-home system, possibly a camera-equipped device, to analyze your surroundings, The Atlantic reported. It would detect items in your personal space to configure your profile by determining your likes, fashion taste, and income. Then, it would cross-reference all that information with your browsing history to show things like where to shop from or what to watch online.
How this tech would analyze items?
The tech capable of detecting items has been described as an object identification system. For instance, if it detects a Will Smith t-shirt in your closet, the actor will be confirmed as your point of interest for content delivery. Similarly, if the tech witnesses any expensive gadgets or household items at your place, it will keep you in a higher income category.
And, it may even identify audio signatures
Apart from bedroom items, the tech detailed in the first patent could also pick up audio signatures to analyze the timbre of voice of people living in a household and confirm their identity, age, and gender.
Plus, there's a system for monitoring home movements
The tech detailed in the second patent is even scarier as it can pick up the activity of your kids. Basically, it has been pitched as a system that could keep an eye on kids and restrict their behavior/movement. It would use sophisticated sensors to check if they are using 'foul language', streaming objectionable content, or accessing restricted areas of the house.
How data mined from this system could be used?
According to the patent, this system's restrictions could also be "based upon certain inputs from remote vendors/facilitators/regulators/etc." This way, companies could leverage data from your home and use that information to offer rewards or punishments. For instance, health insurance companies could determine rates according to your eating habits or house landlords could use the same sensor data to see who's coming or going.
The possibilities are practically endless
With a technology like that, Google could mine huge information from households, even if the device it develops lacks a camera. It could pick up auditory signatures to determine what a user is doing at what time. For instance, it could analyze the sound of chair/keyboard to confirm that a user is working or a fridge door to confirm kitchen activity.
Thankfully, these are just patents at this stage
The proposed systems sound pretty scary, but it is worth noting that these are just patents at this stage. Meaning, Google has explored these ideas, but there is no saying when or if it will actually make them a reality.