Google Patent Outlines Weather Sensing Advertisements
March 23, 2012 10:05 AM
One more way to spy on you or nice new feature?
Many mobile phone and internet users have no love for ads. Mobile phones already have limited screen real estate, so the intrusion of ads is especially annoying. Google has now filed for a patent for weather-based advertising, but claims that it doesn't have current plans to use the patent.
A Google spokesman 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."
The patent outlines a way that Google could serve ads based on the environmental conditions of the user's immediate area. For instance, the patent opens the doors to be able to show you ads for things like umbrellas if it's raining or possibly sunscreen on bright days.
Privacy advocates already fear the patent could set a dangerous precedent. Being able to sense weather conditions in your immediate area would seemingly make it easier to identify exactly where the user is.
"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," explains the patent document.
reports that the patent can also indicate future phones can be fitted with more sensors allowing it to record temperature, humidity, light, and air composition. That seems like a stretch considering how important battery life is to devices today.
Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International says, "Not content with collecting vast amounts of information from your online activities, it seems Google is 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."
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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