A TV that watches you, records your interests

Every once and a while there is a development in technology that is really interesting yet it falls through the cracks. The UTAN TV viewing interface is one of those developments.

According to Tech-On!, NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories (STRL) announced the UTAN (user technology assisted navigation) TV viewing interface at Open House 2011 last week.


With the wacky new interface, a TV watches its viewers and offers information connected to the TV program in relation to way they are watching it.


The UTAN snaps a picture of a viewer with a camera attached to a TV and guesses the viewer’s degrees of interest, concentration, etc from situations such as who is watching the TV, and how interested are they. At that point, information appropriate for the situations is sent to a tablet PC or a similar device near the viewer as “recommended information”. When there are numerous viewers, it is able to figure out the interest of each them.


The interest estimation is directed by the viewer’s face, facial expression and motions.


“If the viewer’s expression does not change for a certain period of time even though he keeps watching TV, he is estimated to be concentrating on the program,” NHK STRL said.


Currently, the identification of facial expression is done by measuring differences from its normal position. And it does not differentiate whether the viewer is smiling or getting angry even though it is technically possible, NHK STRL said.


Could a technology like this have a use in the future? Based on the way this system functions it seems like something tailor made for marketers.


It doesn’t seem like a stretch to suggest that these kinds of devices could become standard in certain models of TVs.


What do you think? Do you want a TV that tries to record your emotions? What would it be used for?