Google wants to scan your clothing and listen to you brush your teeth. Welcome home.
It’s a familiar feeling: Type something into Google’s search bar, and then start seeing ads for it everywhere. Sometimes you don’t even need to search—Google’s already triangulated your desires based on your emails, your demographics, your location. Now that familiarity stands to get a lot more intimate. With a fascinating pair of new patents for smart-home technology, Google is hoping users will open their home to its trademark eavesdropping.
In the first patent, Google imagines devices that would scan and analyze the surroundings of your home, then offer you content based on what they detect. According to the patent, the smart cameras in such a device could, for example, recognize Will Smith’s face on a T-shirt on the floor of a user’s closet. After matching this analysis against your browser history, the device might then say aloud, “You seem to like Will Smith. His new movie is playing in a theater near you.”
It doesn’t stop at Will Smith movies. The patent imagines that smart-home devices would make all types of inferences about users, sorting them into categories based on what the devices see in their most personal spaces. Using object recognition, they could calculate “fashion taste” by scanning your clothing, and even estimate your income based on any “expensive mechanical and/or electronic devices” they detect. Audio signatures, too, could be used to not only identify users, but to determine gender and age based on the timbre of their voice. The smart home would recommend what to watch and where to shop, all based on how it sorts users into categories of taste, income, and interest.
If this sounds invasive, it’s important to recognize that this is already happening, just online. … Read More