In an effort to better target ads to its customers, Verizon has filed a patent for a new DVR set-top box that can effectively spy on you while you're watching TV. 

The patent, which was filed in May 2011, calls for a context-sensitive DVR that uses cameras and microphones to listen and watch for certain motions and keywords that would trigger certain commercials. For example, Verizon says that if a couple is arguing, the DVR would show commercials for marriage counseling. 

As Ars Technica pointed out, Verizon isn't the first to propose a system that watches and listens to its viewers in order to serve more direct ads. Comcast filed its own patent in 2008 and Google filed one for its Google TV platform. 

All of which means that while this technology is frightening, there's a good chance it will show up in some form within the next decade or so. Until then, be happy your TV isn't watching you while you watch it. 

[via Ars Technica]