To better serve ads, Apple wants to know more about its users—specifically how they are feeling. A patent application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is looking at the possibility of measuring users' mood to better target content.
Apple describes a few ways to collect mood-associated data:
- Physical characteristics: the use of body sensors to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline level, perspiration rate, body temperature, and/or vocal expression.
- Behavioral characteristics: how users interact with their devices, such as the applications they launch and when, social networking activity, interaction with the device's interface, and pressure applied to a touchscreen.
- Spatial-temporal characteristics: location, date, day, time, and data consumed. The last can include music genre as well as movie and video game ratings. Hardware and software can also be used to collect more information, with the application mentioning a terminal that uses a camera and facial recognition software.
- The patent application says there are a number of information sources that can be used to derive consumers' characteristics. Apple notes that it could also tap into iTunes and unique user identifier (UUID) databases to gather more information.
While the idea of collecting mood data can be unnerving to some people, it’s an idea that Google is also exploring, according to a patent filing last summer that describes using a pupil-tracking system in a head-mounted display (possibly Google Glass) to infer emotional response to ads.