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Sony files ‘laugh detector’ patent

Sony files ‘laugh detector’ patent


The above diagram is taken from a Sony patent application for a, to give it its full name, ‘laugh detector and system and method for tracking an emotional response to a media presentation’. Now, before you start reading too much into the appearance of a PlayStation 3 in this image, it should be noted that the description of the invention in the application doesn’t suggest that this device would be used to interact with in-game characters. Sure, in theory it looks as if using this device a character could, for example, tell you a joke and then his or her next piece of dialogue could be determined by whether or not you laugh in the real world. However, the far less exciting truth of the matter is that the laugh detector appears to be designed to collect reams of metadata on how a service user responds to different things within a variety of types of media presentation (including movies, music and games) and to then use that data to customise and tailor advertising.


So, for example, say you watched a Johnny Vegas stand-up show via a download service and laughed all the way through, the device could detect this and tell the download service to bookend your next download with a couple of those PG Tips ads featuring Johnny Vegas and his monkey. Or advertisers could license a number of songs to soundtrack a new advert then use data obtained via the laugh detector – which can read a range of emotional responses, not just laughter – to determine which of the shortlist of songs you’re most likely to enjoy and so only use that particular song to soundtrack the ad whenever you see it, while possibly playing a completely different song over it whenever your mate with completely different taste in music sees it. This is all just theoretical of course, but personally we reckon that knowing that our laughter is literally being turned into marketing data as and when it happens would take all the joy out of it and we pray this sinister device never sees the light of day.

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  • Renzo

    Don’t make it seem so bad. Think about it, letting them know what we find funny for marketing purposes allows them to make us laugh more. Who wouldn’t like to see advertising that’s actually funny and enjoyable?