It’s easy to forget that, once your look past the search engine, the mobile operating system, the browser, and all the other products and services that Google brings us, it’s primarily an advertising company. By sheer force of all the data it has about our interests and shopping habits, it’s a darned effective one, at that. Google has some ideas about how it could be even better still at delivering ads, including one that would have your smartphone listening in to background noise.
Google filed a patent application for a system of “advertising based on environmental conditions”. If your phone’s microphone picks up the sound of cheering fans, Google might be able to recognize the noise and start showing you advertisements with sporting themes. Sound is just the tip of the iceberg, though, and the patent application also discusses gathering data through other phone sensors and features.
A temperature sensor might detect when you venture out into the cold, so that Google could use this information to send you targeted ads for a hot soup at a nearby restaurant. There’s also talk of using image analysis on photos you snap, presumably using some of the company’s Google Goggles tech to recognize landmarks or products in the shot.
For now, there’s no sign Google is working to implement any of this, but it’s something we might see down the road, especially as phones become more powerful and the kind of processing time needed to analyze all this environmental data becomes trivial.