The fact that marketers track our online activity and use the collected data to target the messages we receive is not news. Facebook, Google and plenty of other companies have based their businesses around that very public fact. However, Microsoft is now taking its targeted marketing efforts a step further.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Microsoft filed a patent in late 2010 for a technology that can be used to target advertising to customers based on their current emotional states. The technology may eventually be used in smartphones, tablets and other personal devices but currently the most likely application is in Microsoft’s Kinect device for Xbox 360 and PCs. Kinect is a motion-tracking device that allows users to interact with the game console or computers using just body movement and their voice.
With this new technology, combined with more traditional methods of data gathering such as search queries and social media, Microsoft can interpret users’ moods based on their facial expressions, speech patterns and body movements. Microsoft’s patent application outlines several examples of how it will determine a user’s mood … for example, if a person with a Kinect device is yelling at their video game, it will assign him or her a negative mood and select the ads being shown accordingly.
Although this was merely a patent application and the technology may never actually be used by Microsoft, it is interesting that the technology exists. I wonder if consumers will ever reach a level at which they are comfortable letting a company target them based on a factor as personal as their mood. It will certainly be interesting to watch the implications if Microsoft does put this technology to use in any future products.