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Google Looks to Patent Technology that Can Listen to Your Phone Calls and Base Advertisements Upon Them

In a recent move by Google, a patent filing was submitted for a new technology that can listen to the background noises of your phone calls and then base advertisements targeted to you according to what their services heard. Umm, what? Who would opt-in for something like that? For example, if you are chatting on the phone with a friend and your dog happens to bark, Google will then serve you an ad having to do with dog training or dog food.

It seems like a stretch that people would openly adopt an idea like this, but it exists and Google is looking to make it a reality. We are a long ways away from seeing it implemented most likely, but can anyone give us some ideas on why this would be a bad idea? Go!

Update:  A reader of ours pointed out that this patent was applied for some 4 years ago. Will we ever see it used? Tough to tell. Not exactly sure why it was brought up all of sudden. Maybe because of the privacy concerns that everyone has with Google and their new privacy policy?

Via: BGR

  • q`Tzal

    Better be free unlimited minutes and data plan.

    I forsee problems when I talk about needing to rent a TRUCK to go pick up some FERTILIZER for my large garden and fill up rental truck with DIESEL. There are too many words that might indicate criminal intent.

  • Tim

    my roomate’s ex-wife earned $17760 last month. she makes money on the laptop and moved in a $391700 condo. All she did was get fortunate and follow the advice written on this web site lazycash42 c()m

  • cb2000a

    The only way to have privacy anymore is to join the Amish. 

  • Fjfisher601

    Hmmm Illegal wirewtapping come to mind anyone ??

  • http://cashhuge.com

    my classmate’s mom brought home $13206 the prior week. she has been working on the computer and got a $551000 house. All she did was get fortunate and put in action the tips made clear on that web site  top of this comment

  • Rocky

    If you use Gmail you have already allowed them to read your emails. The position has been lost. 

  • Yeahhhhhhhhhh….THIS would be the reason why everybody’s paranoid of Google. {{o_0}}

  • DOWNEY1971

    Can you say SKYNET!

  • This isnt a blatant invasion on your privacy at all… :-/ I like google, and I know they get paid for ads. but this is just over the top

  • No….. Just no…

  • People make too big of a deal about patents sometimes. Just because a company patents something doesn’t mean it will ever see real world use. This is just one of those cases where someone came up with a different idea that could in theory make money, so they patented it.

  • sonicyoof
  • 4n1m4L

    The comments on this story made my day

  • Paranoya

    I’m sorry maybe I’m a little more paranoid than most, but people can and do already listen in on your calls. This is not NEW technology.  Just refined technology.  However, this does make me extremely uncomfortable.  Did privacy ever really exist or is just a “theory” to make us think we can all hide our secrets? Besides, most of us talk on phones in public! hello!? EVERYTHING is documented somewhere. Sad dont you think? And yes, ads from the ACLU? HA! 

  • Qortez Lumpkin

    They’ve been talking about this already

    • TC Infantino

      Just watched it, Hilarious!  Kinda wanting a Gfemale now.

  • YourFriend

    Google: Don’t be evil… or at least not when people are looking

  • me

    google’s new slogan” why do you think for yourself when we can think “for you better

  • S2556

    i saw this about a year and a half ago.
    I guess the idea is that everyones cell plans would be free or heavily discounted and have ad-supported cellular service. interesting idea but i dont know if i would bite. depends how invasive the service felt while having a phone conversations and how much money it was saving me.

  • shdowman

    I am more interested in hearing how someone can justify this being a “good” idea….

    And people complain about Facebook and their “privacy” policies.

  • jcorf

    Well, this might be a stretch, but how is this any different than Google being able to base advertisements on your emails sent/received in GMail. 

  • Nick

    This Patent was filed January 22, 2008, yeah, real “recent” development here. The USPTO just granted it however. 

  • Flyinion

    As long as it was ONLY an opt-IN feature that would be fine.  If you really want your phone pushing ads at you while you make a phone call, fine.  If, however, it’s forced on users, especially with no opt-OUT capability, H3LL no.

  • dglife

    Wanna see how fast i get rid of my smartphone…yeah it will be gone. Sounds like invasion of privacy to me

  • me

    man it looks like I’m going to have to read google’s new privacy policy now.

  • I’ve been defending Google to my friends on everything else people have gotten pissed at them for (privacy policy), but this…this I just can’t get behind.

    Unless they plan on offering a free cell service plan supported by these ads. I’ll trade free service for that.

  • cobraman

    That’s what pisses me off about tech companies today.  Just because you can do something does not mean you should make it a reality.  These geeks get their rocks off by all the things they can get technology to do, but in reality, who cares.  Maybe they should try getting laid………..for a change.

  • so now everyone knows apple has 100 billion in cash,,, so is this googles way of trying to catch up? 

  • you are still listenig to other peoples calls, NO  NO  NO,,, who cant think this is a good idea…DUH!

  • Tatsuo

    wasn’t this an Onion video years ago?  that was hilarious

  • Kernschatten

    So, noise cancelling technology is out?

  • Bunie

    if its listened to by a bot (The same technology that converts google voicemail to text) and bases ads on the text found there, i don’t mind at all. as long as no PERSON see’s it 😀

  • trumpet444

    if this were to EVER come true, i’d sell all my android sh*t and jump to apple. “Do no evil”? This better not happen.  

  • MrEnglish

    If this becomes true in its reported form, it’ll be my last day with Google. 

  • tjmonkey15

    Creepy Google.  Just creepy.

  • me

    google is the real life version of the umbrella corporation just sayin

    • djkoz78

      When did Google start manufacturing & selling umbrellas? I’ve heard nothing if this sir & would like you to prove it… I would and Android powered umbrella with 4.04 ICS. That would be awesome!

      & before I get a bunch of idiots who thought I was being serious I was laying the sarcasm on thick. Umbrella corporation was from RE.

      • me

        Whay you haven’t heard, they are going to put cameras in your umbrellas and hats to see what you’re buying

  • Will

    We really need an organization whose sole job is to think of all the most awful, heinous, unethical and terrible business practices (like this one) that they can and patent them (with no intention of ever licensing them).

    That way, when somebody actually wants to do something like this, that company can just say “Nope, patented”, and start suing.  For once, patents would protect the people.

    • 4n1m4L

      and eventually these people woild corrupt and start licensing these patents. Then they would become what they sought to destroy.

  • Google has been working on this for quite a while actually, and it is already being used (for a while now) by the NSA and some other agencies (obviously for slightly different reasons). Did anyone think that Google would develop this for the government and then not use it themselves?

    • TC Infantino

      Exactly.  People don’t seem to realize that the government (yes, our own government of the free and home of the brave) has been storing all emails sent from and received by the ISPs based in the US.  Those emails are filtered by computer looking for keywords that are assigned flags, enough flags and that email and all the information about it’s routing and the accounts connected to it are saved so that it can be investigated by human intel specialists.  Texts from phones are given the same treatment, and cell phone signals as well since 9-11.  I hate to break it to you, but there are not many forms of communication that are not at least monitored by computer.

  • Jason Frasier

    I think it’s funny that this post is surrounded by ads for the ACLU and protecting online piracy.  

    • MicroNix

      Now wouldn’t it be nicer to have ads that you might actually care about??  I mean if I am going to get ads, at least make it something I’m interested in or wanting to buy.  Discounts? Coupons?  For something I’d buy?  So much better than the random nonsense you normally get whether you like it or not.

      • Nick

         If google implements this in the future, I can see it as a system where you can opt-in to subsidize the cost of your calls with ads.

        Also, this was filed in 2008 – Over 4 years ago. Doesn’t appear that google is implementing it anytime soon.

      • They already do this

      • TC Infantino

        Yes, there is a way to look at this in a positive manner…then again…picture this- You are away from home on a business trip, you call your wife from the hotel and she gets you a little frisky and you both start to have a little fun over the phone.  The next day you are seeing ads in your chrome brower for hand lotion, KY gel, condoms, and if you are into wild things, security equipment (handcuffs).  LOL  guess it could be worse, but it is wicked funny.

      • Jericho

        Not if it means Google listening to every word of every call or even one word of any of my calls. Gross invasion of privacy. Especially considering that I ignore 99% to 100% of all advertisements.

    • John Guerin


    • Philip A. Kaiser

      Those ads are generic boxes. The content that pops up is generated based off of your cookies. And now we know what you have been looking at on the net. Lol

  • Peniis

    imagine what it would market to you after a night on the can following bad mexican food

    • Jordan Webb

      Why are you talking on the phone while on the can following bad mexican food?

      I mean, I agree that this is invasive and not OK, but yeah. You’re not on the phone during parts of your life that you’d consider private, I would hope.

      • Googie

        androids use while on the can, didnt you read that story a few weeks back lol

  • Boilingspecial95

    Getting the iPhone 5 when it comes out

  • me

    I didn’t president bush get in trouble for that very same thing

    • trumpet444

      not really the same thing, but the current administration is doing the same thing you’re referring to 

      • me

        that’s because they are the stop me if you can regime

  • TheOiulkj

    I’m an exibitionist so this turns me on. Hope it really happens.


  • JosephMoreno

    This better be a “just so no one else does” patent.

  • Joshua Barta

    Just because they’ve filed a patent doesn’t mean it will ever be included in an actual product. Even if it were, this would have to be done on a strictly opt-in and exceptionally transparent basis in order to satisfy legal and social concerns.

    • …unless it’s server-side. Why in the world would this happen locally on our phones? (meant as sarcasm, but with a little seriousness)

      • Joshua Barta

        You have a point… but the code to communicate with an external server or proxy would have to exist locally. We can definitively determine determine what data is being sent, and where, but not necessarily how it is being used when it gets there. 

        • Well, as far as listening to phone calls goes, there is no extra code needed on the phone. Our phone calls already leave the premise of the phone (otherwise, phones don’t work), and Google can access them at that point (the most obvious of these would be Google Voice phone calls). However, reading the actual patent, Google also outlines using the phone’s hardware (accelerometer, proximity sensor, light sensor, etc.) to collect data, so that part would definitely have to exist on the phone.

  • steven

    FYI this will not happen in america… look at the constitution, its illegal in every since of the word, and i would find out where they are trying to file this patent…

    • trumpet444

      we’ve said that about a lot of things, and yet the constitution is trampled on every day without a peep from most people. Hell, we don’t even teach the constitution in schools anymore

    • TC Infantino

      People don’t seem to realize that the government (yes, our own government of the free and home of the brave) has been storing all emails sent from and received by the ISPs based in the US.  Those emails are filtered by computer looking for keywords that are assigned flags, enough flags and that email and all the information about it’s routing and the accounts connected to it are saved so that it can be investigated by human intel specialists.  Texts from phones are given the same treatment, and cell phone signals as well since 9-11.  I hate to break it to you, but there are not many forms of communication that are not at least monitored by computer.

  • lee salisbury

    google has lost there mind 

  • Umm….if this is something truly implemented, I would have to kindly retire from using Android. Google has been getting further and further away from where they used to be….and not necessarily in a good way

    • JB

      I was just thinking the same thing after reading this. Google is slowly destroying android with all their bloat and how fast it’s growing. I’m sick of all the ads and what not. Every service they own is just filled with ads, youtube, android, google plus, etc.  I understand they are an advertising company but, idk, I think it is just getting out of control.

      Google is not the same company they use to be when I first jumped to android. 

      • Nick

         Patent was filed in January 2008. When did you join android? With the first massively popular phone –  the Moto Droid – in 2009? Lookie here, Google did this before you were even a customer. They have had over 4 years to implement this, and they have made no move to do so. Nice freaking out over nothing. Dec 21 is coming sooner than you know.

        • hence, if this is going to be truly implemented. I loves me my Android, but IF it is implemented into their system, I am jumping ship.

        • JB

          Since the OG Droid.

           not freaking out. Just saying, they are pushing too much advertising on  us or at least me imo. I don’t remember all these ads 4 years ago…

  • lee salisbury

    i dont like this either 

  • Trooper

    Hello Apple or Windows phone. I mean really, how dumb are you Google?

  • Mack

    If this actually happens, Google will find a giant arrow through the knee of their building. 
    (Overused joke I know, but this is not cool)

    Not sure how this could be legal although down the road who know what this country will allow. Hop this is just a protection patent. 

  • ocdtrekkie

    Something a company patents =/= something a company is doing/even working on.

    • Mikedeamicis

       you mean like all those patents the oil giants bought to slow down integration of alternative fuel automobiles to keep their gold mine flowing. yea, naive much?

      • trumpet444

        i’d like to see solar power put a fully loaded 747 in the air. It ain’t happenin’

  • Hmmm…sorry that would be a terrible idea. Google already has enough info on people and to be eavesdropping on a conversation would be a no go. Talk about a quick death to Android. No thank you Google!

  • Remember, all patents don’t come true. Many companies will patent something just so another can’t use it.

    • JosephMoreno

      Dang you redbull, you’re everywhere lol.

      • I am indeed!

        • Nick

           The patent was filed by google in January 2008 –  Over 4 years ago. Doesn’t appear that it is going to be used anytime soon.

          Also, doesn’t it make sense that an advertising company would research methods of advertising and patent their findings?

  • Jordan

    I wonder if I say “Terrorist” and “Bomb” if it will give me related advertisements for creating dynamite.

    • Asuriyan

      Congratulations, the NSA is on its way to your house as we speak.

      • Calvin Williams

        They were already on their way as soon as you thought of it XD

        • Noyfb

          Oh crap, I just got off the phone with my friend who told me he is going to propose to his girlfriend, Now I’m going to get bride advertisements and dress catalogs, flower services, and jewelry ads! 

          See how this could go horribly wrong….

  • Michael Forte

    Uhhh no thanks. I love Google, but really? Who would agree to have this on their phone?

  • Michael_NM

    VZW’s new motto: We can hear you now.

    • !!!!!!!

    • Lol yeah.

      Now its just a big major privacy issue. But you already know they secretly record our calls anyway.

  • I can see how those talks about porn would end up…

  • Lacokanostra

    … apple here I come

    • Michael_NM

      Bon voyage.

    • ocdtrekkie

      Something a company patents =/= something a company is doing/even working on. 

      • Google

        They already do it with emails and search. Why wouldn’t they try to do it with phone calls?

  • Kakashiisagod

    Real question what consumer wants this?

    • Calvin Williams

      Real question is why Droid Life made this article they way they did. This whole post was written in a way that people would instantly say “good bye Android.” Obviously even if Google did patent this they wouldn’t put it in their phones. They have way too much negative privacy press. Horrible “jump the gun” article IMO. I thought the Droid Life writers were pro Android. This is something I would only expect from Engadget or BGR.