Last week, Verizon filed a patent for a set-top box that detects what you're doing while you watch TV, and serves you advertising accordingly. Ew, weird, companies watching what I do while I consume content. Big brother! Chill, son.
"Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User" describes a system by which a device captures information about what you're doing while enjoying TV, movies, etc, and uses it to target advertising to you. Using a "a depth sensor, an image sensor, an audio sensor, and a thermal sensor" the system would be able to detect whether you're fiddling with your phone, interacting with another person, as well as performing any of:
eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, singing, humming, cleaning, and playing a musical instrument.
Now, this might seem kind of creepy, but there's a few important points to remember before you freak out and sound the privacy alarm. First, companies like Facebook, Google, etc, are capturing all sorts of information about what you're consuming online and using it to serve you targeted advertising. Second, any system like this would almost certainly require you to opt-in before peeking into your life. Besides, how many of these patents actually turn into products, anyway? [USPTO via Ars Technica via Betabeat]