In today’s age of being constantly monitored by someone, somewhere, our personal information and privacy is a hot topic. Many complain over companies like Facebook and Google taking all our information and using it to serve us personalized ads. Google tracks all the pages you visit online to target you with the things it knows you’re into. It’s why, after you visit a store page selling Etnies skate shoes, you suddenly start seeing ads for Etnies on every webpage you visit afterwards. Facebook has the audacity to downright ask you which ads you’d like to see, in an effort to generate some revenue for itself. Whether we like it or not – to these companies – we (and everything about us) is highly valuable to them.
These kind of moves have been touted as “evil” and something we’d all love to fight against, except it’s almost impossible to do anything about it. In fact, Google being “evil” is a subject often used in fanboy fights by Apple fans. Turns out, you may not be able to use that ammunition in your online squabbles anymore. Apple is working on something that could potentially use something even more personal than Google or Facebook can get hold of: Your emotions and mood.
A patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reveals Apple has been looking in to a way to monitor your mood and use it to serve up advertisements that suit you at that precise moment in time.
According to the patent, Apple will be able to use data like your mood, location and the time and there are various ways it could figure out what mood you’re in. One way is to monitor the apps you’re using and in what sequence. Another is using the camera as facial recognition to track changes in your expressions.
As reported by AppleInsider:
On the backend, a database consisting of a user’s profile is automatically updated based on a set of rules instituted either by the user or the system. Pieces of the profile may be revised as needed based on learning algorithms that tap into external data like iTunes registration and usage information.
Once user mood characteristic data is gathered a mood can be inferred based on a set of predefined rules. These rules act off a user’s baseline mood, which is applied on a per-user basis. For example, one user’s baseline may be happy, while another user is sad.
Part of the patent is dedicated to address concerns over privacy, stating that the information being gathered shouldn’t be used for an “nefarious purposes”. Its purpose isn’t to give more of your information to the advertisers themselves, but rather give them a better and more effective distribution tool. It’s possible that this data – like Touch ID fingerprints – will be stored in a secure enclave inside your device’s processor or memory chip. So, your phone or tablet will make decisions on which ads are shown to you by accessing that enclave and making a decision based on your mood without any of the recorded information ever being sent to anyone else.
Despite having a few issues in the past, we know Apple is serious about protecting its customers’ data. After all, unlike Google or Facebook, its source of income isn’t based entirely on you and your personal data. Personally, I’m hoping this patent never sees the light of day. It sounds like it could cause no-end of worry.