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New Verizon cable box will eavesdrop on your living room to deliver targeted ads

Dec 5, 2012

Well, this gets our award for Creepiest Patent Announcement of 2012: Verizon has patented a new DVR cable box that will audio- and video-record the goings-on in your living room, analyze what you’re up to (quietly judge you), and provide targeted ads in real time on the TV to suit the situation.

And of course the patent paperwork couldn’t just imagine some innocuous scenario like, “let’s say you’re having a get-together and the DVR hears the words ‘hungry’ and ‘dinner’—it’ll start showing pizza delivery ads.” Oh no, that would be way too un-creepy. Instead, according to Ars Technica, “Verizon gives two examples of the context-sensitive DVR’s use in a couple’s living room: sounds of arguing prompt ads for marriage counseling, while sounds of “cuddling” prompts ads for contraceptives.” Yep. They went there.

Ars Tech notes that this isn’t exactly the first patent of its kind to be cleared. Still, the use of couples’ fighting and “cuddling” in its application paperwork is pretty over the top.

Time to break out the award for 2012′s most overplayed word: Orwellian.

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