Friday, December 29, 2006

Keep Your Fingerprints Crossed

Only one newly-published patent application really jumped out at me today — Fingerprint-based technique for surveying an audience (20060294537). It's a long-winded patent that discusses different ways to use fingerprints to monitor viewing habits of multiple persons. The entire patent hinges on audience members using a fingerprint reading device.

I don't really think that my girlfriend would pass her hand over some device as she leaves the apartment to go swimming while "Scrubs" is playing on Comedy Central just so the audience monitor knows she's not watching anymore. I appreciate the desire for more accurate audience identification, but the ideal device really has to be passive rather than active. I guess the fingerprint reader is easier (and more accurate) than a journal or some other active method, but it's not the Holy Grail.

As I was reading the patent, one thing did strike me though. What if Scientific Atlanta put a fingerprint reader in my remote control? They could collect our household viewing habits and know whether I, my girlfriend or somebody else changed the channel. And if Scientific Atlanta also put a smart proximity sensor in the remote, it would know when the channel changer — the person, not the remote — leaves the room and comes back.

All that data and I wouldn't have to change the way I watch TV.


Anonymous said...

Damn, you're giving away all these ideas! You could be patenting them!

Too late now! (as he laughs maniacally and rubs hands together).

dr. tv (mike vicic) said...

I could be patenting them, but I've chosen not to file documents for a variety of reasons. The main reason TO patent, of course, is the dream that I'd someday be able to sue for patent infringement. (That's the dream since I personally can't execute the ideas.) Those lawsuits are rarely successful since it's actually quite easy to write patents that are legally differentiated while practically the same. (But when the lawsuits are successful, it's like winning the lottery.)

If you like these ideas, imagine the ones I'm not giving away for free;)