Comcast cameras to start watching you?

If you have some tinfoil handy, now might be a good time to fashion a hat. At the Digital Living Room conference today, Gerard Kunkel, Comcast's senior VP of user experience, told me the cable company is experimenting with different camera technologies built into devices so it can know who's in your living room. The idea is that if you turn on your cable box, it recognizes you and pulls up shows already in your profile or makes recommendations. If parents are watching TV with their children, for example, parental controls could appear to block certain content from appearing on the screen. Kunkel also said this type of monitoring is the "holy grail" because it could help serve up specifically tailored ads.

Ed: As blackice912 pointed out, the validity of the article is in question, and we'll keep monitoring the story as it unfolds to clarify what Comcast means.

View: Full Article @ NewTeeVee

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so does it flick to the porn channel if your shagging on the couch :)

still i woudlnt trust it, hell i turn my webcam to the wall encase anyeone manages to hack it..

Do you people really think this is going to be something mandatory? just calm down, if this even does come out it would be optional.

I think Gerard Kunkel needs to stop and think about what topic he is commenting on and the forum in which he is commenting on that topic.


This is the posting left by Gerard Kunkel on this website;

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


This is the what I've found about Gerard Kunkel on another website, it seems as if he has a little more invested in the well being of Comcasts's Business afairs than the average individual. I wonder what "Kunkel" thinks about the suggestion that some of Comcast's services and devices as well as most of their policies are in place with no concern of the customer or their account. Why are TTS tickets kept open for 1400+ hours with no resolution and no where for the agents to send the customers for immediate resolution. I have to wonder if Ralph Roberts even remembers what a customer is or what they
even mean to a business or a large Juggernaut of a Corporation, ripping up and spitting out smaller (but far more effective) local ISP's along with every unsuspecting customer in it's path.

ITV Interview: Gerard Kunkel, President of GuideWorks
Posted on October 6, 2005 by itvtwp
Gerard Kunkel is president of GuideWorks, a joint venture between MSO, Comcast, and EPG developer, Gemstar-TV Guide, which was established in early 2004. (Note: the venture is 51% owned by Comcast and 49% owned by Gemstar, and is funded by the companies in the same ratio.) He recently spoke to [itvt]̢۪s Tracy Swedlow about the mosaic-style navigational system that GuideWorks unveiled earlier this year at the NCTA̢۪s National Show, about GuideWorks̢۪ product roadmap, about the research methodologies the company employs, about its relationship with TVWorks, Comcast̢۪s joint venture with Cox, and more.

[itvt]: GuideWorks seems to maintain a fairly low profile. Why is that?

Kunkel: We tend not to focus outwardly too much at GuideWorks because we don̢۪t have any revenue associated with this venture. It is fundamentally a development organization with a cost basis, but no revenue basis. So typically I̢۪m not out there trying to promote any products. That̢۪s more of a Comcast mission or a Gemstar-TV Guide mission.

[itvt]: What are your responsibilities at GuideWorks?

Kunkel: I’m actually a Comcast executive, and I have two basic responsibilities. I am responsible for the user experience of the Comcast video products, and, as part of that, I am responsible for running the GuideWorks organization–which, as you know, is a joint venture between Comcast and Gemstar-TV Guide, where Comcast maintains 51% equity ownership and operating control of the venture.

That information (for those of you who are interested) , can be found at - http://blog.itvt.com/2005/10/06/itv-interv...-of-guideworks/

this says a lot about what kind of company Comcast really is.

The goal of the management of any corporation is to make as much money for their shareholders as possible. Ethics are usually left out of the way.

LMFAO.

I was thinking that some sickos operating these cameras (okay so they're infrared, not a good picture overall to begin with) will find ways to play Peeping Tom on hot chicks moaning to the TV set.

Nice job on fact checking, guys! From the freaking article:

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 know it's cool to hate on Comcast, but come on. Based on the above message, it sounds like an IR camera that allows you to use gesture-based interaction with your TV.

That's not from the article, it's from a comment that was posted later. Calm down.

company is experimenting with different camera technologies built into devices so it can know who̢۪s in your living room.

That sounds a bit far off from some Wii gesture system. Looks like they are doing some PR backpeddling after all the negative responses.

Thats good, i think adding profile button that will bring up a menu of users and their favorite channels would be better but remotes these days have too many buttons.

It never says that it sends the video back to Comcast. The device will know who is watching TV not Comcast.

(TRC said @ #16.1)
That's not from the article, it's from a comment that was posted later. Calm down.

That sounds a bit far off from some Wii gesture system. Looks like they are doing some PR backpeddling after all the negative responses.

Yes I am aware it is from the comments, which I should have pointed out.

Also if you read what I quoted, this article (based on the comment) is apparently based on an overheard conversation between Gerard and another person talking about various input devices, which includes gesture recognition.

So could it be a PR recovery? Yes. Could it also be someone looking for a story where there is none? Indeed.

Do you really think a company would put an actual camera inside a cable box? It would confirm the fears of those people who think the red light means the box is watching them! See, it's already started (more article comments):

I would like to see specific model numbers that include cameras in the boxes.

Shining a flashlight into the front of the boxes should reveal what’s behind the piece of dark plastic. If anybody has found a camera, I’d love to know.

You need to look at the box you have now some have a microphone that some people were cutting out.
Onstar has been used to hear people talking in there gm cars by the FBI already.

They have already done this to cable boxes. It’s not just comcast either.

People who'd be dumb and lazy enough to buy a product with such abilities would deserve to get ****ed by their corporation of choice and the government who'd probably be tapping in.

Smith! 6079 Smith W.! Yes, you! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that! You're not trying. Lower, please! That's better, comrade.

This is exactly like 1984, cameras in every TV. My guess is someone in the Comcast board room read Orson Wells recently and thought, "hey, what a great idea for marketing!"

I'm saddened to now be a Comcast customer (I miss my Insight already...)

Major invasion of privacy... but there are ways around it even if it did happen

1) Buy Tivo... and get a SDV adapter for when SDV is deployed (tivo is way better then comcast's dvr to start with)
2) Get a MCE PC with cable card....
3) dont use a cable dox

Too bad Arthur C. Clarke passed away recently. It sounds like Comcast is going to be marketing HAL9000 to homes everywhere!

ksalter: HAL, I'd like to watch the news.
HAL: Sorry, but informational programming is currently unavailable.
ksalter: HAL, I think the problem may be in your programming.
HAL: I am completely operational, and all my circuits are functioning perfectly.
ksalter: I suppose I could try some electrical tape over the camera lens...
HAL: Perhaps the problem is in the high voltage circuitry of your television set. Stand in this puddle of water and I will guide you in eliminating the problem here.

Well, if you're sitting 10 feet away with a bunch of other people and use your remote it's going to have a hard timing determining who's who. And will need to be a pretty hi-res camera too. Unless you have to be right in front of the thing to activate it. I'd think voice activation would be better or how about a biometric device in the remote?

This is rather disturbing, just to know that someone is currently trying to achieve this. More disturbingly is, the idea that it may someday, be executed legally.

(ksalter said @ #2)
Easily solved with some electrical tape.

I wonder why they even bother to make announcements like this? Do they really think consumers want this?

There are certain corporations in the US that are living in some kind of ivory tower, away from reality. They keep scheming, looking for ways to enslave consumers. I guess the years of deregulation by the Bush administration (AKA Bush-Exxon, Inc) has emboldened them to think they can get away with anything.

A few years ago, I'd be attacked for saying something like that, and called a "liberal," but I think now even the die-hard "conservatives" see what the Republican party has turned into lately.

Why can't the FCC do anything about Comcast? Our politicians side with big business instead of consumers. Our politicians crippled the FCC so that the only thing it can do is give out fines for nipple slips and cursing.

America is in denial. In denial that its government has been hijacked by corporate lobbyists. The longer this continues, the worse it's going to get.

I don't live over there and even I'm scared. This company does whatever the hell it wants so far, With the FCC being unable to do anything in the slightest.