Verizon Communications’ patent application for a camera-enabled set-top that would serve ads based on which TV viewers were in the room -- and what they were saying or doing -- was officially rejected on March 7.
According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s Patent Application Information Retrieval system, Verizon’s application for “Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User” received a final rejection last Thursday. The agency cited prior patents in the field for the rejection.
Verizon spokesman Ed McFadden said the telco is "reviewing" the decision.
That doesn’t mean the concept of serving up targeted ads using a set-top with a camera is dead -- others are actively exploring the concept. Intel, for one, has said its forthcoming Internet-delivered TV service will employ a set-top with a camera and facial-recognition technology to deliver custom content and potentially advertising.
Verizon’s patent application covered a broad range of activities that a set-top would detect for the purposes of targeted advertising, including “eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, singing, humming, cleaning, and playing a musical instrument.”
In addition, it described detecting an “ambient action [that] comprises an interaction between the user and another user,” including “cuddling, fighting, participating in a game or sporting event, and talking.”
The telco’s patent application, filed last May, was first reported by FierceCable after the USPTO published it in November. The story was picked up by national outlets, including NBC Nightly News.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc