Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has tried to file a patent today that would allow the company to listen in on phone calls in order to target advertisements. It may sound outlandishly authoritarian but the technology to achieve such an outcome was revealed today in a patent application that was made public. The technology would listen to background noise on the phone call, rather than the actual speech, in order to target ads based on environmental conditions. The company already has the technology to tweak its ads based on location, web history, email contents, smart phone usage, taste in music and film, and personal information. The environmental addition would lead to ads providing umbrellas in rainy weather or sun block on a sunny day.
If the firm denies concerns and the technology actually makes it to see the light of day, as many such patents do not, it will lead to many being paranoid of the company’s intentions and increasingly skeptical of the company’s motto, “Don’t Be Evil”. The patent shows that background noise from a phone call would be sent to Google’s servers where it would be analysed and turned into targeted advertisements. The possibilities for its use are manifold and we will have to wait and see if and how the company will utilize the technology.