Google has developed a system that uses a PC microphone to eavesdrop on a co-located television. “Big Brother” determines what you’re watching to present relevant web information, social applications, and more targeted advertising… that you can’t quite see from the couch, anyway. Monitoring TV viewing habits actually seems less invasive than archiving search data (in the event of any DOJ subpoenas) as long as you use pseudonyms around the house.
Google says: We showed how to sample the ambient sound emitted from a TV and automatically determine what is being watched from a small signature of the sound — all with complete privacy and minuscule effort. The system could keep up with users while they channel surf, presenting them with a real-time forum about a live political debate one minute and an ad-hoc chat room for a sporting event in the next. And, all of this would be done without users ever having to type or to even know the name of the program or channel being viewed.
(Thanks, Todd B!)