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Google wants to listen in to your conversations to target ads, Fujitsu to protect you from scammers

AFP   March 23, 2012
First Published: 15:35 IST(23/3/2012) | Last Updated: 17:12 IST(23/3/2012)
In the future the person you thought you were calling may not be the only one on the other end of the phone line.

Google and Fujitsu are both working on technology that analyzes your phone conversations but the intended outcomes are very different: Google wants to analyze background noises to create targeted, environment-sensitive ads while Fujitsu wants to make sure that you are not being conned by scammers on the other end of the line.

On March 20 Google was granted a patent for “advertising based on environmental conditions.” The idea behind the patent is to use sensors on a consumer’s device to determine information about their environment. This information could be used to deliver targeted ads including showing the phone owner an ad for an umbrella when it is wet, an ad for an air conditioner when it is hot or for coats and jackets when it is cold.

Google would also analyze background noises and audio signals during phone conversations to determine the music you like or the sporting events you go to in order to show more relevant ads.

PC World said that “if you're at a sports event and you call GOOG-411 for info about a nearby restaurant, Google will be able to identify the sporting event based on background noise heard through the handset's microphone, and ads related to fans of that sport will be pumped to your phone.”

Nagoya University and Fujitsu are currently working on technology that maps a person’s voice pitch and level to detect when they are in an “overtrust situation” and may be vulnerable to phone phishing scams. 

“When overwhelmed with information that may be distressing, some individuals, without knowing it, may have a diminished capacity to objectively evaluate information provided by another party—a situation known as ‘overtrust,’ explained Fujitsu. “In situations of overtrust, there is the risk of believing everything another person is saying, even in cases of remittance-soliciting phone phishing scams, for example.”

Fujitsu claims that the pioneering technology can detect remittance-solicitation phone phishing scams with more than 90 percent accuracy. The technology can be used to notify the intended victim and provide support by contacting family members or authorities.

Starting this month the National Police Academy and The Bank of Nagoya will work together with Fujitsu to verify its initial results in the hope of eventually using the technology to prevent actual cases of phone-based remittance-solicitation fraud.

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