Is nothing off limits? Now Google plans to spy on background noise in your phone calls to bombard you with tailored adverts…

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Money, People, Politics, World

Adverts could soon be tailored according to the background noise around you when using your smartphone, if a patent application by Google becomes reality.

The search engine giant has filed for a patent called ‘Advertising based on environmental conditions’.

As that title implies, it’s not just background sounds that could be used to determine what adverts you seen on your mobile phone. The patent also describes using ‘temperature, humidity, light and air composition’ to produced targeted adverts.

Ear we go: Adverts could soon be produced according to environmental conditions such as background noise, if Google's patent becomes reality
Ear we go: Adverts could soon be produced according to environmental conditions such as background noise, if Google’s patent becomes reality
Reaction to the Google patent has been mixed
Reaction to the Google patent has been mixed

The application said: ‘A web browser or search engine located at the user’s site may obtain information on the environment (e.g., temperature, humidity, light, sound, air composition) from sensors.

‘Advertisers may specify that the ads are shown to users whose environmental conditions meet certain criteria.

‘For example, advertisements for air conditioners can be sent to users located at regions having temperatures above a first threshold, while advertisements for winter overcoats can be sent to users located at regions having temperatures below a second threshold.’

Google has come under fire recently with users becoming increasingly concerned about its attitude to privacy and perceived obsession with making money.

Google’s controversial new ‘privacy policy’ allows the search giant to ‘pool’ information from 60 separate services including Gmail, Google Search and Android phones, to create ‘personalised’ advertising.

Google ignored an international outcry to launch its new privacy policy on March 1 this year, despite concerns it may be illegal in the EU, as well as countries such as Japan and South Korea.

European Union authorities said that the new privacy policy appears to violate European law, in an email to Google CEO Larry Page.

A coalition of 50 consumer groups in the UK and the U.S also wrote to Page to protest against the new policy.

Meanwhile, a former Google executive – James Whittaker – even lambasted his former employer in a 1328-word blog attack recently, saying ‘the Google I was passionate about was a technology company – the Google I left was an advertising company’.

For some, the environmental conditions patent reinforces his view.

Naga Saravan Golla wrote on thenextweb.com: ‘That will be really annoying!’ While Wayne Smallman said: ‘What desperation. Google, you’re losing it.’

However, not everyone was concerned.

David Williams wrote on the site: ‘I actually appreciate targeted ads. The point is that ads are always going to be there, so why not make them only things I’m interested in for myself or my company?’

A Google spokesperson said: ‘We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t.

‘Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications.’

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