Xeno's strange news awards blog.
While Google wants to get all up in your home appliances and your eyeballs, it looks like Apple’s pushing to get straight to the heart of their users. A patent application from the tech giant that was published today and picked up by Apple Insider describes a technology that would infer a user’s mood at any time in order to best serve them relevant ads. …
“Mood-associated characteristic data” could include “heart rate, blood pressure, music genre, sequence of apps launched, rate of UI interactions, etc.” Some of those make more sense when you think of Apple products—music data could be taken from iTunes so content delivery systems can get a heads-up when you’re cracking out the emo records, and app behaviour could be sourced from iPhone usage.
As for heart rate and blood pressure—and the patent application also mentions adrenaline, perspiration, and temperature—that clearly suggests a potential wearable tech element (and something more sophisticated than a mood ring). They could be tasks for the yet-to-materialize iWatch, BGR suggests. The documents also mention the possibility of a camera to recognise facial expressions.
That’s all very clever, but one major issue is that people present different moods in different ways. Therefore, the system would start by compiling one or more “baseline mood profiles” for individual users based on data collected over an initial period. Then, a variation from a person’s usual mood at any given time could be used to infer how they’re feeling at that point.
And in case tracking a person’s actual behaviour isn’t enough, the system could incorporate external events too. “For example, if a tragic event occurred, an
inferred mood can be downgraded. In another example, if the day corresponds to a national holiday, an inferred mood can be elevated,” the patent suggests. “In yet another example, if the weather is particularly nice, an inferred mood can be elevated. Additional uses of user independent mood-associated data items are also possible.\”
Of course, this is just at the patent application stage, so we’re not likely to see it any time soon. Add to that the obvious privacy concerns of a company storing vast amounts of such highly personal data …