Most consumers don’t have serious concerns about so-called “spy” set-tops, which could be used to serve targeted ads or program recommendations, according to a new survey from research firm Strategy Analytics.
Still, 30% of consumers surveyed said they would “never” accept such monitoring and 13% said they “probably” would reject such a service.
Only 14% of those surveyed said they “don’t mind at all.” About 24% said they were neutral on the idea and 20% agreed that they had “a few reservations” but in general wouldn’t object if the overall service improved.
For now the question is largely hypothetical. But last month, the potential for privacy abuses with the technology prompted a U.S. representative to introduce legislation that would force video providers to display the message “We are watching you” if they use devices with cameras that monitor the activity of viewers.
Microsoft currently provides voice- and gesture-based controls with the Xbox’s Kinect attachment (picture above). But those features can be disabled by consumers, who are “in control” of their own data, according to Microsoft.
Intel has described a set-top box with a camera for its forthcoming over-the-top TV service that would perform facial recognition to determine who’s watching TV. Similar to Microsoft, the chip company says there are no privacy issues because users can turn the feature off.
In the Strategy Analytics survey, the research firm posed the question to consumers by telling them: “It is possible in the future that television could have cameras and sensors that will be able to identify who is in the room and which TV shows they are watching.” The survey question noted that benefits of such technology could include personalized recommendations and paying less for the service.
The firm surveyed 6,180 consumers in the U.S., France, Germany, Italy and the U.K.