March 5, 2013

Smile! You could be on camera!

Linda M Camera Lens

I’m all for target marketing, but this is a little invasive.

To anyone who’s faced with a cable bill in excess of $200 every month, news that Intel is planning on “blowing up the cable industry” with its own set-top box and unbundled cable service is big stuff. Instead of paying a fortune for 500 channels you rarely watch, Intel says they’ll allow you to subscribe to specific channels of your choosing. According to Intel, the set-top box will offer cable channels delivered “over the top” to televisions anywhere there is an Internet connection, regardless of provider. Consumers can subscribe to content per channel – maybe even by show. They even plan to enable consumers to use “Cloud DVR,” which would allow users to watch any past TV show at any time.

When I first heard about Intel’s plan, I was rooting for them. After all, I like to get behind the underdog. Then I found out that the set-top box will feature a camera that can look at who is watching TV so it can deliver a more “personalized experience.”

I’m all for target marketing, but this is a little invasive, if you ask me. Intel claims that the camera is meant to help the device to recognize people and customize the way it offers them content, according to a recent story in Ad Age.

Intel didn’t come right out and say they’d use the device to target TV spots more precisely, but you get the picture. Maybe this would be a good thing. On the one hand, why should I have to sit through countless Bud Light spots just because I’m watching an Eagles game when I’d never touch the stuff? On the other hand, if I saw a spot for Cherry Hill Volvo telling me it was time to trade in my S60, I’d be a little freaked. Somehow, being targeted by my TV set seems different than being targeted on my laptop or mobile device.

Time will tell if any of this actually comes to fruition. But one thing I’m sure of is that our privacy seems to get a bit more eroded with each passing day.