In what might be the creepiest installment of companies using surveillance technology on their customers yet, Verizon recently filed a patent for a cable box embedded with a camera and audio recorder to watch and listen to your living room habits. With enough information, the communications giant could then begin serving you targeted ads based on your behavior. And the implications are even more Orwellian than you might expect. From the patent:

[0028] In some examples, if detection facility 104 determines that a user is exercising (e.g., running on a treadmill, doing aerobics, lifting weights, etc.), advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated with exercise in general, a specific exercise being performed by the user, and/or any other advertisement (e.g., an advertisement for health food) that may be intended for people who exercise. Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects that a user is playing with a dog, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated with dogs (e.g., a dog food commercial, a flea treatment commercial, etc.). Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects one or more words spoken by a user (e.g., while talking to another user within the same room or on the telephone), advertising facility 106 may utilize the one or more words spoken by the user to search for and/or select an advertisement associated with the one or more words. Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects that a couple is arguing/fighting with each other, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated marriage/relationship counseling. Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 identifies a user, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement based on user profile information associated with the user (e.g., information associated with the user’s preferences, traits, tendencies, etc.). Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects that a user is a young child, advertising facility 106 may select one or more advertisements targeted to and/or appropriate for young children. Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects a particular object (e.g., a Budweiser can) within a user’s surroundings, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated with the detected object (e.g., a Budweiser commercial). Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects a mood of a user (e.g., that the user is stressed), advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated with the detected mood (e.g., a commercial for a stress-relief product such as aromatherapy candles, a vacation resort, etc.).

In case you missed any of that: if the box hears you fighting with your significant other, you’ll get marriage counseling ads. If it hears you using certain words in conversation, it’ll give you ads that also use those words, so as to be more relatable to you. And if you’re drinking Budweiser, you’d better believe you’re getting commercials for the King of Beers. Et cetera.

As Slashgear points out, Verizon probably wouldn’t implement this technology without asking its customers, but it’s hard to imagine anyone asking for it.