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Google imagines environment-aware mobile adverts

Mar 22, 2012

If you have ever stood in the rain wondering where the nearest umbrella shop is, then the latest Google patent may interest you. The search giant has secured intellectual rights to a system that would serve ads based on environmental conditions. Google said forward-looking patents were useful for its portfolio, but it had no current plans to act on it. But privacy advocates have warned it could set a dangerous precedent.

The patent potentially paves the way for a mobile phone fitted with sensors that would allow it to record data such as temperature, humidity, light, and sound or air composition, which would trigger relevant adverts. The patent would allow Google to search offline data as well as online.

Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, is not impressed. '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.'

Patents are the new battlefield for tech firms, and as well as seeking to gain as many device-specific patents as possible, many are also lodging forward-thinking ideas to future-proof themselves.

Source: BBC News


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