update The U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected the concept of Net neutrality on Thursday, dealing a bitter blow to Internet companies like Amazon.com, eBay and Google that had engaged in a last-minute lobbying campaign to support it.
In less than 24 hours, I’ve learned about two different ambient audio sampling and matching projects that I had never heard of. They sound a little like magic but audio fingerprints even, or especially, very small ones are very information rich and unique in many ways. So samplers beware.
The first is immi.com or Integrated Media Measurement Inc a market research firm that gives you a cell phone, if you are one of their “panelists” The phone then takes small random audio samples of the ambient audio in the phone’s reach, packs it into a fingerprint and sends it up to a database to be matched. Their How It Works section explains the process from panel selection to data analysis. Their reported panelist retention is as amazing as their technologies.
Now TechCrunch reports that Google Research is working in the same area. The Google Research papers are more about fingerprint creation and matching (the real magic here as audio is so wonderfully compressable if you don’t mind loss and if you are after a finerprint loss is fine).
A bit from TechCrunch here:
Google Research team members Michele Covell and Shumeet Baluja along with Michael Fink of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Center for Neural Computation were given the best paper award for their report on the system at the the Euro ITV (interactive television) conference last week. (“Social- and Interactive-Television Applications Based on Real-Time Ambient-Audio Identification” 10 pg PDF, see also the Google Research blog post on the paper.)
But unlike IMMI.com, Google is sampling from “your home computer” instead of a special cell phone and it’s unclear how the matched information will be used, that is there are a lot of suggestions that don’t make sense to me.
Our CEO Eric Schmidt believes this situation is so important that he has written an open letter to Google users asking them to speak out on this issue. We urge all of you to read his letter and call your representative in Congress at 202-224-3121. For more information on the issue, and more ways to make your voice be heard, visit It’sOurNet.org.
Update: For those following this debate closely, the key House vote is happening Thursday night or Friday morning on the Markey-Boucher-Eshoo-Inslee Amendment, which would add meaningful net neutrality provisions to H.R. 5252, the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act. We believe anything less that this amendment would be a loss for freedom and innovation on the Internet.