Two Google research scientists propose using ambient-audio identification technology to capture TV sound with a laptop PC, identify the show, and immediately return personalized Internet content to the PC. "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," Michele Covell and Shumeet Baluja write on the Google Research Blog.
Why? Marketers would love to know exactly who's watching what when. It could help Google extend its online dominance into television and radio by offering advertisers unparalleled insight into the mass media audience. The researchers contemplate using the system as an advertising tool: "Content providers or advertisers might bid for specific television segments."
It's not clear that this will have much appeal for TV viewers, who enjoy kicking back and zoning out. But if it can solve the mysteries of Lost or predict the winner of American Idol, it just might work.