Google plans to use “smart” devices, such as refrigerators and thermostats connected to the Internet, to serve targeted advertisements to users in the near future, according to its recent filing with the Security Exchange Commission.
In the filing, the multinational tech company refused to disclose how much money it makes from displaying ads on mobile devices because Google expects “the definition of ‘mobile’ to continue to evolve as more and more ‘smart’ devices gain traction in the market.”
“For example, a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities,” the company stated. “Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future, and thus our advertising systems are becoming increasingly device-agnostic.”
“Enhanced Campaigns [Google’s targeted ad program] was specifically designed to help advertisers become more efficient in a multi-device future; rather than writing unique desktop campaigns, handset campaigns, and tablet campaigns, etc., Enhanced Campaigns allows our advertisers to write one ad campaign, which we serve dynamically to the right user at the right time on whatever device makes the most sense.”
So in other words, Google could determine your eating habits based on the data it already collects on you and then display the “appropriate” food advertisement on your refrigerator.
Or perhaps even display ads for summer clothes or sweaters on your thermostat.
And considering that political groups are increasingly using advertisements to influence public opinion, it’s not entirely far-fetched to envision gun control groups using “smart devices” to push their anti-gun agenda in the privacy of your own home.
For the past several years we have warned that Google was steadily creeping into Americans’ daily lives.
In December, Google engineering director Scott Huffman said that Google was working on a concept involving microphones mounted in the home that would respond to verbal queries, much like the Enterprise’s computer in Star Trek.
“Google will answer you the same way a person would answer,” he said to the Independent.
And in August, we revealed that Google was developing a “head mounted device,” perhaps a future incarnation of Google Glass, that would have the ability to track eye movements, allowing Google to analyze user reactions to advertisements displayed on electronic devices.
“The inferred emotional state information can be provided to an advertiser so that the advertiser can gauge the success of their advertising campaign,” the patent filing states.
Let’s not also forget that in 2012, Google patented the technique to use “environmental factors,” such as sounds, gathered through a smart device’s sensors to target ads at users. A device could theoretically display a dog food ad, for example, if it hears dogs barking in the background.
These developments, of course, raise legitimate concerns about how involved one company should be in your life, especially a company such as Google which has known ties to the intelligence community.