Microsoft has obtained a patent for technology that uses cameras to spy on consumers and make sure they pay for content.
The patent includes cameras built into TVs, PC and mobile phones that can scan on infrared, use "facial recognition techniques" and analyse audio input.
The patent reads that "viewers may be uniquely identified and a count of the viewers determined, with the licensee then charged for each viewer accessing the content. Age and identity restrictions can be applied in this embodiment as well."
For example, the patent could be used to charge streaming of a movie on a per person basis, in which case the camera would scan to count how many people are in the room.
Not just limited to cameras, industry insiders think Microsoft could also use its Kinect and Xbox devices to spy on consumers. The patent applies to both streaming content as well as downloaded material.
Experts predict that search giant Google will be interested in licensing the patent considering that it covers head mounted computers like its Project Glass.