Google awarded patent for weather-based ads

The US has granted Google a patent on technology designed to enable targeted advertising based on a smartphone user’s environment

The US has granted Google a patent on technology designed to enable targeted advertising based on a smartphone user’s environment.

In a case of science imitating fiction, Google envisages advertising based on prevailing weather conditions detected by sensors in mobile devices, according to the Telegraph.

The patent has been linked with the film, Minority Report, in which Tom Cruise's character is surrounded by highly targeted advertising.

“When determining what ads to serve to end users, the environmental factors can be used independently or in combination with matching of keywords associated with the advertisements and keywords in user search queries,” said the patent awarded by US authorities this week.  

Google has also patented the idea of analysing the background noise when a user makes a call to target advertising. For example, the system could detect if a user is at a concert and determine which one using their GPS location. It would then deliver advertising for albums, instruments or audio equipment.

The patent has not been welcomed by privacy groups, who say it could set a dangerous precedent.

“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,” Gus Hosein of Privacy International told the BBC.

“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?”

A Google spokesman said: "We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications."

Patents are becoming the new battlefield for tech firms. Many seek to gain as many device-specific patents and patents around forward-thinking ideas as possible.                                                                                                                                     

So-called "blue-sky patents" consider what next-generation products and services may look like to in an attempt to secure a dominant position in future.

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