Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Businesses Media Television

In Soviet US, Comcast Watches YOU 404

Posted by kdawson
from the you-have-none-get-over-it dept.
cayenne8 sends us to Newteevee.com for a blog posting reporting from the Digital Living Room conference earlier this week. Gerard Kunkel, Comcast's senior VP of user experience, stated that the cable company is experimenting with different camera technologies built into its devices so it can know who's in your living room. Cameras in the set-top boxes, while apparently not using facial recognition software, can still somehow figure out who is in the room, and customize user preferences for cable (favorite channels, etc.). While this sounds 'handy,' it also sounds a bit like the TV sets in 1984. I am sure, of course, that Comcast wouldn't tap into this for any reason, nor let the authorities tap into this to watch inside your home in real time without a warrant or anything."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

In Soviet US, Comcast Watches YOU

Comments Filter:
  • Ah well ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:10PM (#22820344)
    This is one privacy issue that a little electrical tape can cure easily.
    • by AragornSonOfArathorn (454526) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:12PM (#22820392)
      not really. If you cover up the lens, the cable box goes "Your papers, please." Then you'll have to type your SSN or passport number in with the remote before you can watch TV.
      • by twitter (104583) *

        I put a picture of Mickey Mouse in front of mine. They got me for copyright and trademark violations too. How did they know?

        TV is not worth this. Thanks to MythTV, I considered paying for cable TV again. There is no way in hell I'd sit a camera in my living room for it. What complete morons.

        • by aurispector (530273) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:40PM (#22820816)
          Heh. It's hard to believe someone thought this was a good idea. After the recent warrentless wiretap fiasco, it's brutally obvious that this would be abused by some government agency somewhere. Fascists exist in every society.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by SeaFox (739806)

            After the recent warrentless wiretap fiasco, it's brutally obvious that this would be abused by some government agency somewhere.

            Was it really such a "fiasco"?

            From what I can see, most people didn't give a damn about the warrantless wiretapping. At least not enough to actually act on their feelings. There was no mob of pitchforks and torches looking for government agents, no collapse of AT&T from mass customer defection (in fact, AT&T has been gaining customers thanks to the iPhone, so this whole th

        • by rudeboy1 (516023) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:42PM (#22821708)
          It's probably bad that the first thing I thought of was, "damn... no more watching porn in the living room"... ...or watching TV without pants ...or making out on the couch ...or building bombs on the coffee table
          • by anup_at_mac (821069) on Friday March 21, 2008 @02:06PM (#22821958)

            I was almost there with you till you said

            making out on the couch
            . Yeah right !!... oh wait, did you mean with an inflatable doll or something?
          • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Friday March 21, 2008 @02:29PM (#22822186) Journal
            On the contrary. I would proudly wave my pole to the camera, make 'em envious, and I would love to see their reaction after I...uh...well, you know. It would be a new form of target practice. Go for distance... and accuracy.
          • by sYkSh0n3 (722238) on Friday March 21, 2008 @02:33PM (#22822220) Journal
            I use to build bombs on the coffee table, except that damn wobbly leg. Table shifted, things rolled, my house became short one living room. :(

            But really, what kind of sane person would put a camera they didn't have control of in their living room? I don't even like having my webcam pointed at me when i'm not using it.

            What really annoys me about this, is I can see people getting it and BEING EXCITED that it can see them in front of the tv and pick out what they want. It goes back to that "i have nothing to hide, so why should I care" philosophy. I have nothing to hide either, but I sure as hell care.

            • Next reality show? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by LilGuy (150110)
              I could see a new reality tv show being started from just grabbing peoples' recorded activities and sending them $5 in the mail.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Lord Apathy (584315)

            no more watching porn in the living room

            Don't let that stop you. Maybe all the public relations nightmares and lawsuits might not stop this but nothing but video of a 100,000 nerds jerking off on the couch.... I bet that get the plug pulled on this bullshit in a heart beat.

      • Re:Ah well ... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:38PM (#22820768) Journal
        blockquote>If you cover up the lens, the cable box goes "Your papers, please." Then you'll have to type your SSN or passport number in with the remote before you can watch TV. then you know what I do? I unplug the fscker, cancel my service [not that I'd deal with comcast in the first place] and go post on slashdot or something. it really isn't that important to watch TV, so why give them any power over you? I mean really why do people put up with this? It's almost as if people are too lazy to defend their privacy and too eager to whine about their problems or something.
        • Re:Ah well ... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Original Replica (908688) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:15PM (#22821342) Journal
          I mean really why do people put up with this? It's almost as if people are too lazy to defend their privacy and too eager to whine about their problems or something.

          In a way, whining about this in a widely read forum like Slashdot, is defending our privacy. Public awareness is the first step towards stopping things like this. Now the American public has an almost zero attention span, so awareness has to be loud and alarmist to even register on the social consciousness. To add to that problem, the evening news is alarmist about everything because it gains ratings, but further buries any real problems from getting the attention they need in order to be resolved.
        • Re:Ah well ... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:47PM (#22821756) Homepage

          I mean really why do people put up with this? It's almost as if people are too lazy to defend their privacy and too eager to whine about their problems or something.

          There are a whole group of people who "defend their privacy" in cases like this simply by avoiding such products and services. These people have no social impact *at all*, because they don't say anything - which means everyone else thinks that "no one cares".

          What that means is simple: Yes, you should actively defend your privacy by avoiding intrusive services. But you also need to whine about it on the internet to let others know that someone cares.

        • Re:Ah well ... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by sm62704 (957197) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:54PM (#22821810) Journal
          then you know what I do? I unplug the fscker, cancel my service [not that I'd deal with comcast in the first place] and go post on slashdot or something. it really isn't that important to watch TV

          I know this is going to come as a shock to you non-geezers, but you can watch TV without cable! There's satellite TV (several providers IINM) and good old trusty rabbit ears (my rabbit ears are amplified and deliver a very good picture) or roof antenna.

          When I was a kid we only had three channels, and that was in the St Louis Metro area! I'm in dinky little Springfield IL now, and I can pick up nine channels.

          Yeah, I could get dozens of channels with cable but so what? When I had cable I didn't watch very many anyway. If there's a program on cable I want to watch I'll go to a bar (I'm usually in one anyway). I used to like The Discovery Channel before they started sucking. Instead of "The Andromeda Galaxy: little known secrets" now there's "Painting race cars: little known secrets". They have ESPN on and there's... championship POKER??? Pool? WTF is next, twiddly winks?

          At least when I was a kid there was Ernie Kovacs and Red Skelton. You young whippersnappers don't know what you're missing.

          If they impliment this I'm going to have to make another article alomg the lines of Good Riddance to Bad Tech [kuro5hin.org] about bad tech we SHOULD get rid of... maybe add it to Dog-Slow Technologies [slashdot.org] and rename the sucker.

          -mcgrew
      • Re:Ah well ... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sm62704 (957197) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:31PM (#22821550) Journal
        If you cover up the lens, the cable box goes "Your papers, please." Then you'll have to type your SSN or passport number in with the remote before you can watch TV.

        Shamelessle and blatantly stolen from A Child's Garden of Grass: A Pre-Legalization Comedy (1971)

        "Your paperss, pleass!"
        "Uh, but I only got a pipe, man."
        "Zen you'll haff to come vith ME!"

        But seriously (boo! he's serious!), is there ANY evil the corporations won't stoop to? Time to take all those lame stale lawyer jokes and rework them to Capitalist jokes. Even you athiests have to agree with what the bible says about the love of money.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Diss Champ (934796)
      Until the duct tape becomes illegal in some future legislation that is the love child of DMCA & PATRIOT.
      • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:17PM (#22820468)
        No, they can't make that illegal because they've already told to lay in plenty of duct tape in case of a chemical attack.
      • by nurb432 (527695)
        Nail polish then

        Until the set top box calls the police if it cant see you. I guess then you stick a picture of an empty room in front of it.
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        Until the duct tape becomes illegal in some future legislation that is the love child of DMCA & PATRIOT.
        You mean like Sharpies [slashdot.org]?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by zappepcs (820751)
        I don't know about all that tape... hmmm, I might set it up so that Comcast spies^H^H^H^H^H^H employees can watch hours and hours of JibJab making fun of political figures. I might even play some YouTube videos of Richard Dawkins for them. Even better! I'll pipe al jazera tv to them 24/7.
        Or maybe just set up a IR light box about 1.5 inches from the lens and let them watch the bright bright IR light. Power it from the box's switched outlet and whenever it is turned on the camera will be washed out with IR.

        Pe
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          You're on Slashdot, home to the finest trolls in the galaxy, and the best you could come up with is a Rickroll?

          C'mon, at least step it up to 2girls1cup
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        Or the camera operates on a wavelength duct tape is transparent to.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by darjen (879890)
      My fix is already in place: a cheapo Radio Shack HDTV antenna.
    • Re:Ah well ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Naughty Bob (1004174) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:24PM (#22820576)

      This is one privacy issue that a little electrical tape can cure easily.
      Using the electrical tape will be classed as theft, as you are preventing the business from optimizing, and thus maximizing the revenue derived from, the advertising. Puts me, albeit tenuously, in mind of a quote I saw recently-

      In the 1980s capitalism triumphed over communism. In the 1990s it triumphed over democracy.
      • Comcast shareholders today sued the Bob Family for negatively affecting the Comcast stock price. Followed on the heels of the widely successful lawsuits shareholders brought forward against Take Two and Yahoo, Comcast feels confident that the Bob Family lawsuit will show non-shareholders just how important to society the price of not just their stock, but all stock, is worth compared to non-monetized things like privacy and freedom.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by btaratoot (937576)
      I would just put my cardboard cutouts of Pamela Anderson and Boba Fett in the living room. :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by grassy_knoll (412409)

        I would just put my cardboard cutouts of Pamela Anderson and Boba Fett in the living room. :)
        ... And if you don't have the space for both cardboard cut-outs, just combine the two... call it boob-fetts ...

        [badum-ching]
    • Re:Ah well ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:31PM (#22820676)
      I predict if this comes to pass, child pornography will be brought up in defensed of warrantlessly spying on people using this technology.
    • by wsanders (114993) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:34PM (#22820714) Homepage
      After all don't we all have tape over the flashing 88:88's already?
    • by plague3106 (71849)
      Well, so would canceling your Comcast service.
    • Unfortunately, by sticking electrical tape on the camera, you have invalidated your warranty (by their own definition) and they cannot be held responsible if, say, the device becomes permanently nonfunctional when it notices the channels being changed while the camera detects no motion or light.

      Them's the breaks!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      This is one privacy issue that a little electrical tape can cure easily.

      Naw, just point it back at the TV set, and put it on E! all the time.

    • Kunkel Replies (Score:5, Informative)

      by Stanistani (808333) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:29PM (#22821528) Homepage Journal
      From the Fine Article's Comment page:
      - - - - - - - - - -
      Chris,

      Your article on "Comcast Cameras to Start Watching You" portrayed some assumptions that require correction and clarification. I want to be clear that in no way are we exploring any camera devices that would monitor customer behavior.

      To gather information for your article on Comcast's exploration of cameras you picked up on my conversation with another conference attendee. The other attendee and I were deep in a conversation discussing a variety of input devices offered by a variety of vendors that Comcast is reviewing.

      The camera-based gesture recognition device is in no way designed to - or capable of - monitoring your living room. These technologies are designed to allow simple navigation on a television set just as the Wii remote uses a camera to manage its much heralded gesture-based interactivity.

      We are constantly exploring new technologies that better serve our customers. The goal is simple - a better user experience that allows the consumer to get ever increasing value out of their Comcast products.

      As with any new technology, we carefully consider the consumer benefits. In fact, we do an enormous amount of consumer testing in advance of making a product decision such as this. I'm confident that a new technology like gesture-based navigation will be fully explored with consumers to understand the product's feature benefits - and of course, the value to the consumer.

      Sincerely,
      Gerard Kunkel
      - - - - - - - - - -

      I despise Comcast, but thought the fellow should at least be allowed to defend himself.

      How ticked off he must be - those meddling journalist types!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cashman73 (855518)
        After reading this Slashdot article, I posted a link to the story on my online journal [livejournal.com]. Just a few hours later, I got a response from "comcastcares" (see link), which was basically the same text from a different person at Comcrap. I'm thinking that their PR department must be working overtime today,... ;-)

        I did respond to the post, too. I hope somebody reads it -- this company seriously needs a wakeup call,...

        My response:

        Thanks for clarifying that. Although, from reading the slashdot article on this s

  • They will never succeed in getting this technology in people's homes in the first place. People would just say "Nah i'll take the one WITHOUT the camera built in." And that'll be the end of that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by alexbartok (764756)
      That depends on the marketing strategy. If it's a `cool new device for interacting with your friends`, I'm sure they'll get not so tech-savy or privacy-savy people to buy it.
    • by hkgroove (791170)
      You underestimate the camwhores that will want to show off for the cable guys.
    • There will be a "think of the children" campaign. People will protest children seeing adult material and someone will argue that "the technology already exists" to solve this problem. These cameras will detect that children are in the room and block inappropriate material. A law will be passed requiring the camera-in-box technology. There you go... it's in people's homes.
    • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:21PM (#22820532) Journal
      Exactly. Who would possibly want this -- do I want the channel changing when my wife walks in the room and in front of the couch?

      If they simply must market such a technology, at least put a biometric device on the remote. That would have to work better than some mysterious body shape recognition, give them the same marketing information and I can still watch Sanford and Son reruns in my underwear.

    • Already there? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:32PM (#22820698) Homepage Journal

      What makes you think the camera is not already there? Have you disassembled your cable box?

      Food for thought. Your cable box could have a camera already. If you have cable internet you know it has enough bandwidth for monitoring you.

      • Re:Already there? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:35PM (#22821598) Homepage
        Yes it's NOT there. I have been inside many of the cable boxes. And the "camera" they are talking about is a 32X32 FLIR camera. that way it can detect bodies.

        it's a VP that really knows very little about what he is talking about opening his mouth to the public. it's more of a detector than a camera. We were talking about it at Comcast over 5 years ago when I was a part of that focus group. I cant believe they are still chasing that idea. It does not make the demographic data any more valuable than it already is.
  • by LuminaireX (949185) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:12PM (#22820382)
    Note to self: no more sex in the living room.
    • by ashridah (72567)
      No kidding. This would probably kill their adult movie channels pretty quickly if word got out that some deviant at comcast was recording people watching the channels.
    • by StefanJ (88986) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:21PM (#22820526) Homepage Journal
      No, no, no! Keep on spanking the monkey, but for the sake of the camera do it while surrounded by:

      Roll 1d8:

      1) Stuffed animals
      2) Feminine hygiene products
      3) Jars of Bovril
      4) Jars of Marmite
      5) Old computer hardware
      6) Cassette tapes of ABBA albums
      7) Duct tape
      8) Any two of the above

      With any luck, the Demographic Analysis software will either give up or -- unless 1960s SF shows have taught me wrong -- spew reams of paper tape, shout "DOES NOT COMPUTE!" in a tinny voice, and catch on fire.
      • Either that or they will start producing suck fucked up porn that it can compete with the internet
    • by tgd (2822)
      Its okay, just wipe up with your cable bill. Its sort of win-win.
    • by Fatal67 (244371)
      Note to Self:

      Unsubscribe to LuminaireX's living room video feed.
  • 1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikeabbott420 (744514) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:13PM (#22820400) Journal
    A 'bit' like 1984? Who in the hell would go for this? Americans seem to have managed to convince their politicians and corporations that they have no interest in freedom at all.
    • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by George Beech (870844) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:25PM (#22820612)
      Politicians and corporations seem to have managed to convince Americans that they have no interest in freedom at all

      fixed it for ya

    • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by coaxial (28297) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:57PM (#22821082) Homepage

      A 'bit' like 1984?
      Actually this more reminds of Max Headroom.

      Who in the hell would go for this?
      The vast majority of people.

      Americans seem to have managed to convince their politicians and corporations that they have no interest in freedom at all
      Because a majority Americans apparently don't.

      Oh and this is perfectly okay since it's a corporation and not a government because companies are beholden to a small number of hyper wealthy share holders as opposed to the populous. And companies never do anything wrong! Why would they? I mean look at the housing market. Rolling along! Look at the energy markets where it was finally let loose of the yoke of government regulation! Enron! Worldcom! Bear Stearns! These are pillars of industry. Truly, we should simply have more faith in the wisdom of our betters.
  • If the camera's integrated into the set top box, that means the box has to be pointed at the viewers (not, say, rotated 45 degrees), and not in, say, the drawer of your entertainment center. Even then, a little duct tape in the right spot, and you've got an obscured camera.

    There's really not much possibility of this being used without the consumer's knowledge.
    • by King_TJ (85913)
      I agree... and presumably, a company like Comcast would never WANT to try to FORCE it on anybody. The obvious goal of such a thing would revolve around more accurate viewer statistics than they can obtain with current technologies. Nielson ratings require VOLUNTARY participation, for example. They only want data from people willing to voluntarily help them collect it.

      Nonetheless, this is disturbing. The cable subscriber him/herself would be aware if he/she opted to use this, but what about unwitting par
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      If the camera's integrated into the set top box, that means the box has to be pointed at the viewers (not, say, rotated 45 degrees), and not in, say, the drawer of your entertainment center. Even then, a little duct tape in the right spot, and you've got an obscured camera.

      And an obscured IR receiver as well. You'll need an IR repeater, and have to periodically check the box to see that it has remained powered on as they're notorious for turning off and berating you for trying to operate them without turning them back on (as opposed to turning on for you on receipt of any valid IR signal). And the glorious new failure mode where they look like they're functioning (display channel instead of reverting to clock) but instead have been unresponsive and outputting a static garbag

  • Does Comcast think the behvior exhibited is beneficial to them in the eyes of current/potential customers or the FCC? To think, someone actually believes this is the way to run a business.

    Although, I suppose it gives us something to talk about between SCO updates.
  • Cool! Maybe the DVR will only show my porn channels when my wife isn't in the room! :-) :-)

    Actually, it's more fun to watch with her anyway. :-) But I could see some value in context-sensitive cable box a/o DVR behavior.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:15PM (#22820432)
    This would be useful for determining who's on the end of the cable line, using bittorrent. The FBI can then go ahead and break their doors in, during an early-morning no-knock raid.

    They can then go ahead and develop technology to determine who's watching the commercials and who isn't... and then apply a flat per-minute fee for not watching advertisements.

    Alternatively, they can charge a per-viewer fee for pay-per-view events. After all, if you crap 20 people around your HDTV to watch a $40 boxing event, isn't it logical that you should pay extra for every extra person who's watching it?

    Heck, there's all kinds of useful things a company could do with this information.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Not so sure about the P2P angle, i know here at my place the computer is not in the same room as the tv's so it wouldn't show them anything other then a couple of animals walking around in the living room.

      Now, the 'superbowl' idea, that is possible.
  • They already used the "In Soviet Russia..." joke. Now I'm going to have to come up with a car analogy or something...
    See it's like someone is looking at you while you are driving down the road...
  • by oliphaunt (124016) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:16PM (#22820456) Homepage
    I had to check today's date 3 times because I was sure this was an April Fool's story.
  • The idea that your TV can recognize you, and automatically turn to your favorite shows, is a neat idea in theory. The problem is that nobody trusts the asshats that make these boxes NOT to try to spy on you. Welcome to the digital age.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:18PM (#22820498) Homepage

    The RIAA and the MPAA will love this. At last, content can be licensed to the individual, not the device. "Pay per viewer", at last.

    And you can't cover the camera; if it can't see you to identify your biometrics, your licenses won't validate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cptdondo (59460)
      Heck, wan't there a proposal in the VHS era that would limit the number of people in a room for tape watching? Something like you could only have 8 people at a time, otherwise you would have to pay additonal royalties?

      I cna see it now. Every time someone walks into the room they have to swipe their credit card in the STB or the TV will turn off.

      This sounds like a DRM dream. The sad thing is that many people will think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and will welcome this "customized user e
  • by Reason58 (775044) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:21PM (#22820522)
    The ultimate reality show: watching yourself watch yourself.
  • Anyone notice that the summary closes with a quotation mark but doesn't have an opening quotation mark anywhere?

    Otherwise, I enjoyed this summary more than most. Of course I've got 1984 (book on CD) in my car right now. Which reminds me--it's "Telescreen."
  • I'd just drape a white towel over the camera and smile as I am deluged with ads for snowshoes, fur coats, and skis.
  • I don't like this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:32PM (#22820686)
    It used to be my only complaint about all the sex on TV was falling off, now I've got to worry about an audience. Maybe I can charge them for it, like selling power back to the electric company?
  • What company ever won a war with their customers?
  • Here's what they are really thinking, they can really charge for access to the individual level for everything you view and block access to people who have not paid. All the other things like invasion of privacy are just bonuses to them and a way to get the government to push for it by making it a key for V-Chip access control.
  • Plain ole paper books are sounding better and better all the time.
  • ....the USB ports in front of the cable box are for. It all makes sense now!

    And here I was hoping the USB ports were for plugging in game controllers for some sort of gaming-on-demand service.
    • Re:So that's what (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BradleyUffner (103496) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:51PM (#22820988) Homepage
      My box has a firewire port on the back. I plugged it into my laptop once and it was detected as a video for windows device. After digging around for some drivers i was actually able to watch the video coming off the box directly on the laptop. In doing some research for this it looks like all set top boxes made after a specific date are required to have this built in by the FCC.

      It would have been even better though if it acted as a tv tuner card that you could use to change channels on the box from the computer.
  • I guess that is what duct tape is for. Stick a little over the camera and viola. They can't see squat!

    Personally I think this would be a huge invasion of privacy. If some hacker tapped into this and got video of some guy doing his wife. If they were 'in front of the tv' and watching pr0n, and then it got posted on you tube. I'd imagine that there would be a huge law suite in the US.

    I really hate comcast at this point. I wish there were other cable companies in my area, and no dish does not work so w

  • by GlL (618007) <gil@DALInet-venture.com minus painter> on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:41PM (#22820824)
    It sees you when you're sleeping, it knows when you're awake, it knows if you've been bad or good, so be good or get blackmailed.

    Does anything sound like a bad idea to these idiots? I can just see the board room discussion...

    CEO: I'm thinking anal probes.
    CLO: I don't think we're quite there yet, remember you have to work up to this stuff gradually.
    CTO: We already know everything about their web surfing, let's expand on that.
    CEO: What do you mean?
    CTO: Let's build cameras into the converter boxes, this way we can watch them.

  • Why not just have 4 buttons on the remote, so 4 users can be assigned a button. Another can bring up a full list of users. When the user wants to watch some TV, they just press that button to turn on all the devices they will typically want (sound system, TV, cable box, etc) and load their settings.
  • well, this time tin foil has a real use, to cover the camera!
  • Yes, but In Soviet Russia, YOU watch ... i mean Comcast watches... wait, what?
  • Reply from Comcast (Score:5, Informative)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:12PM (#22821304)
    For those that didn't RTFA ike I did, AND scan down throught the comments section, Gerard Kunkel, the Comcast rep interviewed in the article, actually posted a reply to the article in the comments section of the website. Here are his comments:

    Chris,

    Your article on "Comcast Cameras to Start Watching You" portrayed some assumptions that require correction and clarification. I want to be clear that in no way are we exploring any camera devices that would monitor customer behavior.

    To gather information for your article on Comcast's exploration of cameras you picked up on my conversation with another conference attendee. The other attendee and I were deep in a conversation discussing a variety of input devices offered by a variety of vendors that Comcast is reviewing.

    The camera-based gesture recognition device is in no way designed to - or capable of - monitoring your living room. These technologies are designed to allow simple navigation on a television set just as the Wii remote uses a camera to manage its much heralded gesture-based interactivity.

    We are constantly exploring new technologies that better serve our customers. The goal is simple - a better user experience that allows the consumer to get ever increasing value out of their Comcast products.

    As with any new technology, we carefully consider the consumer benefits. In fact, we do an enormous amount of consumer testing in advance of making a product decision such as this. I'm confident that a new technology like gesture-based navigation will be fully explored with consumers to understand the product's feature benefits - and of course, the value to the consumer.

    Sincerely,
    Gerard Kunkel


    Hopefully that clarifies things a bit.

    I'm still glad I have TW cable in my area.
  • by The Second Horseman (121958) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:46PM (#22821746)
    Wow. So how long before it's illegal to turn your TV off? Max Headroom is starting to look creepily accurate in some ways. Cable execs will know if you're "stealing" the shows by getting up to get food during the commercials. Maybe they can bill us. On the flip side is ratings - they can tell if there's someone in front of the TV or nobody watching. Overall, the networks and cable channels aren't going to like that . . . Hey, and once this is widespread, we can all be required to sit for our daily government "information" programming! Wow! And if they know thie distance, they might even be able to figure out details like approximate weight!

HOST SYSTEM NOT RESPONDING, PROBABLY DOWN. DO YOU WANT TO WAIT? (Y/N)

Working...