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Google Patents Ads Based on Environmental Conditions

john-rampton
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Image via GeekWire 

Background noise, rain, snow, temperature, humidity, light and other environmental factors could one day affect the Google ads you see. Google just received a patent for “advertising based on environmental conditions” to users.

The official patent, submitted in early 2008, was granted March 20. It isn't hard to imagine these types of ads being combined with the rumored Google AI “Assistant” product.

A variety of sensors are mentioned. For example, when the temperature sensed by a device dips below a certain threshhold, the system could serve up ads for winter apparel, according to the patent. It also looks like included in the patent is the ability to serve ads based on sounds, light, and air composition.

Google's technology, should they decide to implement it one day, will allow them to listen to the background noise and market to you. It will listen to the background noise and analyze it, taking into account your location. For example, it will determine you're at a ball game and deliver relevant ads or links to your phone with sports scores or other relevant ads.

Google noted in the patent that “it is important to respect the privacy of the users,” and explained that users would have the option of “enabling or disabling some or all of the sensors for the purpose of gathering information to support advertisements,” as governed by a privacy policy.

News of this patent comes at a time when Google is facing scrutiny over its privacy practices.

Does this mean Google will use these environmental conditions to serve relevant ads or search results on any device equipped with a microphone or just Google products (e.g., Google Chromebooks, Android devices)? Many questions remain unanswered at the moment.

Is this a little creepy to anyone? Which is worse, the ability to determine what's going on in phone conversations or them getting a patent to be able to advertise to those people? I find both quite disturbing. It's kinds cool if you're on Google’s side, but I’ll be curious to see if this audio snooping will hold up in a legal setting.


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