Google patent suggests using background noise to generate mobile ads

google patent suggests using background noise to generate mobile adsPatented ideas can often sound fanciful, outlandish and even just plain silly, but that’s exactly because they propose ideas that we’ve usually never thought of before. Earlier this week, for example, we heard that Nokia had patented the concept of a vibrating tattoo which would let you know who’s calling. A vibrating tattoo? Who’d have thought it?

And now it’s emerged that Google has just been awarded a patent for “advertising based on environmental conditions.” The patent concerns an idea which would apparently involve mobile phones or tablets laden with sensors, gathering information about the person’s surroundings and serving up relevant ads.

The patent, first reported on by PC World, gives the following explanation: “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.”google patent suggests using background noise to generate mobile ads

So if you’re walking along the street and temperatures are below zero, ads could be pushed to your phone by Google for winter wear, or perhaps for stores selling warm clothes at locations close to where you are at the time. Conversely, if it’s sweltering hot, ads for air conditioners might appear.

But the sensors would deal with more than just weather-related data. Sound could also be analyzed. So does that mean if we get excessive wind after eating a spicy curry, ads for flatulence will start turning up on our smartphone? Quite possibly, though you’ll have to be in the middle of a call for any noises to be detected.

In its report, PC World gives an example: “If you’re at a sports event and you call GOOG-411 for info about a nearby restaurant, Google will be able to identify the sporting event based on background noise heard through the handset’s microphone, and ads related to fans of that sport will be pumped to your phone.”

It also says that if, for example, you make a call from a music concert, Google will be able to determine your musical taste from the background noise, and then push relevant ads to your phone.

Executive director of Privacy International, Greg Hosein, is concerned about the direction Google appears to be heading in with its patent.

Speaking to the BBC, he said, “Not content with collecting vast amounts of information from your online activities, it seems Google are looking to start exploiting the offline space as well.

“Patents like this may never come to fruition, but they force us to ask ourselves: how many aspects of our lives will advertisers try to exploit, and where will it end? This is an attempt to turn our devices into personal spying devices, just so a company can try to sell you a coat on a cold day.”

Google said that if the technology is ever implemented, it will allow users to switch off the environmental monitoring element of the device. If you had an environmentally-aware phone, would you leave the sensors on or be happy to receive ads relevant to your surroundings?

Product Review

Amazon's new Echo is smaller and cheaper; firmware upgrade improves sound

The all-new Echo is shorter, cuter, and comes with several different color and fabric choices. Our Amazon Echo review reveals that while the acoustics initially weren't great upon release, a firmware upgrade has improved the sound.
Mobile

Samsung patents show what Infinity-O display could look like on Galaxy S10

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Home Theater

A recent Twitter leak may show the upcoming AirPods 2 model

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.
Mobile

Just how tough is your phone case? We break down IP ratings, military standards

Almost every manufacturer is packing IP ratings these days, but just what does that mean exactly? We break down the standards behind IP ratings and Military Standards to find out what they really mean.
Mobile

Google rolls out Night Sight to Pixel 3 and 3 XL camera app

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Mobile

You can now message businesses straight through Google Maps

Google has been updating Maps with a ton of new features over the past few months, and now it's back with another one -- the ability for users to message businesses directly through the Maps app.
Mobile

No cash. No talking. What goes next? Welcome to your ‘app-tive’ digital life

Bank of America's 2018 Trends in Consumer Mobility Report found mobility has changed our lives. Mobile tech influences how most of us communicate, meet people, build relationships, and handle money as we move toward a cashless society.
Mobile

The Motiv smart ring is coming to 20 more countries and physical stores

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.
Wearables

Everything you need to know about Garmin’s GPS watches and trackers

Garmin jumped into the GPS smartwatch and fitness tracker market five years ago and has built a portfolio of devices that rivals competitor Fitbit. Here's your guide to the latest and greatest fitness devices that Garmin has to offer.
Mobile

Sharp doubles down on the notch trend with Aquos R2 Compact

As if one notch wasn't enough, Japanese manufacturer Sharp unveiled a new smartphone that has two -- one teardrop style notch at the top, and a bigger notch at the bottom. Here's what the world's first dual-notch smartphone looks like.
Mobile

Verizon has made its first 5G video call … with a phone that’s already out

Verizon has announced that it has successfully made its first video call, using a smartphone that's already available: The Motorola Moto Z3. To make the call, Verizon used the 5G Moto Mod.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Mobile

The best protective iPhone cases to defend against dirt, dings, and drops

If you’re going off-road or work outdoors, it could be a good idea to invest in a tough case. These are our picks of the best protective iPhone cases for all iterations of the iPhone, from the iPhone XS to the 7.
Social Media

Build a wish list and shop videos with Instagram’s latest shopping update

Eyeing a product on Instagram? Now there are more ways to shop from the social network. Instagram just rolled out options to save products in a collection as users can also now shop from videos.