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Can Viewers Interact with TV Commercials?

If you’re still using 20th-century television technology, you may not realize that viewers on new networks like Netflix and HBO Go are seeing hardly any commercials these days, even without the wizardry of TiVo. Sony has seen the future, and has planned for it, with Patent No. 8246454 B2, which was published in 2012. The 21-page filing -- complete with futuristic diagrams -- gives the company first dibs on “methods, systems and computer programs for converting television commercials into interactive network video games.” Sony is betting that viewers will be willing to interact with advertising in a number of ways.

Say the magic word:

  • For example, Sony sees a day in the near future where you can talk to your TV screen and stop a commercial in its tracks. Say “McDonald’s” for example, and you’ll get right back to your program.
  • The company also wants to make TV ads fun, by allowing viewers to virtually drive a car being advertised, probably with a Wii-type controller, and compete in a racing game to earn redeemable points.
  • Or, Sony says, you’ll be able to ask an advertiser questions about the product they’re trying to sell you. For example, you may want to know about nutritional facts, or particular ingredients.
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