Read the full article for more on how Google is trying to make this sound less scary...
A system recently outlined by researchers at Google amounts to personalized TV without the fancy set-top equipment required by previous (and failed) attempts at interactive television. Their prototype software, detailed in a conference presentation in Europe last June, uses a computer's built-in microphone to listen to the sounds in a room. It then filters each five-second snippet of sound to pick out audio from a TV, reduces the snippet to a digital "fingerprint," searches an Internet server for a matching fingerprint from a pre-recorded show, and, if it finds a match, displays ads, chat rooms, or other information related to that snippet on the user's computer.
Source: Technology Review: Emerging Technologies and their Impact
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