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Google Gets Patent to Track Background Noise Through Your Phone to Better Target Ads


Google can already used location-tracking technology to better target ads and search results, but a new patent awarded Tuesday is taking it a step further. With its new patent, the company could someday use "environmental conditions" to sense where you're at or what you may need and advertise accordingly.

While this may sound creepy, before you get concerned, GeekWire points out that within the patent Google states that users would have control of whether or not to use this feature:

The patent acknowledges that “it is important to respect the privacy of the users,” and explains 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.

According to the patent, environmental conditions would be determined by "a signal output from a sensor of the remote device or a sensor coupled to the remote device." An advertisement would then be identified based on the environmental condition. Sensors could pick up information such as sound, temperature, humidity, light and air composition.

Here are a few examples of how ads could be targeted based on environmental conditions, according to the patent:

  • If sensors pick up a temperature above a certain threshold, air conditioners could be advertised. On the flip side, if temperatures are sensed below a certain threshold, winter coats or heaters could be featured.

  • Noisy levels detected a few days in a row for long periods of time? Advertise for sound canceling headphones.
  • Location sensors see you're stuck in a traffic jam day after day. Bring on the ads for mass transit or carpooling.
  • What if you're at a sports stadium and you call Google's 411 service looking for a place to grab a bite. Sound sensors pick up the roar of cheers and couple that with location-based technology to suggest appropriate venues for dinner afterward.

Phones aren't the only devices Google envisions this sort of targeted advertising to affect either. The patent mentions the potential for digital billboards, digital kiosks or vending machines to have these environmental condition sensors as well.

GeekWire points out that there is no indication that Google will move forward with implementing this technology, but it is not out of the realm of possibility with this new patent.

[H/T: PC World]

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