The Microsoft patent would use information about an individual’s preferences to deliver behaviourally-targeted commercials on-the-fly. [Eek] It goes further… Information would also be cross-referenced with a user’s online address book, calendar, purchasing history etc. to deliver a more personalised experience.
Meanwhile the Google patent outlines a system that would record ambient noise from a television while the viewer is watching, pick up relevant tidbits that the viewer might be interested in, and either pull up pages or generate them on the fly for the viewer to check out. One example given in the patent describes a viewer watching Friends who may want to gossip with others online about Monica’s pregnancy. That person would typically have to go to the computer, perform a Google search for “Friends,” then sift through the results to find a discussion forum of some sort. This, Google says, “would diminish the passive experience offered by mass media.”
Instead, the system would listen to what is being played on the TV, compare it against a database of previously-generated audio fingerprints, and automatically pull up the relevant web pages for the viewer. It could even put together dynamically-generated pages with various things like news stories, discussion boards, and social networks based on the content being viewed.
Ominously, both technologies rely on a sort of camera being mounted on or near the TV screen, to detect facial characteristics of whoever is viewing [how will they persuade anyone to install one of these?]