A recent report revealed that over 250 mobile games were found to have software which can track the TV watching habits of their users. Alphonso produced the software, and the reach of the software even extends to the Apple App store.
Always-listening devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home are already quite creepy but always-listening mobile games takes creepy to a whole new level. Games like Beer Pong, Pool 3D, Real Bowling Strike 10 Pin, Trickshot, and Quest as long as hundreds more use software from Alphonso, a startup specialized in “TV retargeting.” When watching TV, you likely use your smartphone or tablet during commercial breaks, and the software Alphonso collects data on what you are watching to deliver targeted ads to your mobile device based on that data.
In a chat with the New York Times, Alphonso CEO Ashish Chordia said the company’s software was able to get data from those who don’t turn off their mobile phones while watching TV. He went on to mention a deal which Alphonso has with Shazam, one which Apple recently purchased. According to the deal, Alphonso picks up snippets of audio data and provides it to Shazam which then puts the audio through content-recognition technology to identify users. Once that has been done, Shazam sells the data back to Alphonso.
So, for example, a company like Ford could target viewers of Monday Night Football to purchase ad time from ESPN and send ads to mobile phones and tablets because they know you are watching the game.
While for the apps, they use microphones in smartphone tablets to pay attention to “audio signals” which allow the software know when someone is watching a particular movie, TV show or ad. Even creepier, this occurs whether games are in the foreground or background and whether the games need or don’t need microphones to work.
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