Google looks to patent tech that listens to calls to promote ads

One of Google's numerous pending patents involves technology that would take note of background noise, like rain, during phone calls and serve users related ads, such as a pitch for an umbrella.

Like something out of George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" where "Big Brother is watching you," Google is trying to patent technology that could pick up on background noise during mobile-phone calls and then promote related ads.

The title of the patent application is "Advertising Based on Environmental Conditions," and it was first reported today by tech-news site The Next Web. Apparently, the technology will be able to listen in on background noise, like rain, music, or a baseball game, and then serve related ads, such as a spot for an umbrella, a new album, or a sporting event.

"Information about an environmental condition of a remote device is received, the environmental condition being determined based on a signal output from a sensor of the remote device or a sensor coupled to the remote device," the Google application reads. "An advertisement is identified based on the environmental condition, and the advertisement is provided to the remote device."

If the patent is granted, the Web giant won't be employing workers to listen in on users' calls but will instead use real-time monitoring technology, according to The Next Web.

Besides technology that monitors phone calls, the patent application also looks into placing onto people's computers online ads that are influenced by data from environmental sensors--such as temperature, humidity, light, and sound.

"For example, advertisements for air conditioners can be sent to users located at regions having temperatures above a first threshold, while advertisements for winter overcoats can be sent to users located at regions having temperatures below a second threshold," the patent reads.

The patent application also examines possible technology to look at the backgrounds of photos and videos people have taken. For example, The Next Web explains, if someone has a picture with snow in it they may be shown an ad for snow shovels.

According to Google, the company has thousands of pending patent applications and it's unclear if and when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will grant this particular patent.

"We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't," a Google representative told CNET today. "Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications."

The Next Web points out that the application is reminiscent of an amusing Onion parody video involving a Google phone that whispers ads into users' ears.

 

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