The MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America) in 1968 created what we know today as the film ratings that are applied to basically every film we see in the country. Every movie bearing a code has been reviewed and given it based on its level of appropriateness. As a kid, you can’t go into a theater and see any movie, just the ones that are available for your age group. Its goal is to prevent a child from seeing something horrifying or traumatizing.
This rating system doesn’t exactly apply to the home though. There are no limits on the type of gore or violence that may be shown on your TV, and that could scare children or even some adults. A new patent from Sony seems designed to combat this subject.
Your TV will capture your facial expression, looking at your emotional state. The patent also suggests being able to measure how quickly your breathing. Both of these can be used to indicate how this content is affecting you. It will also profile you, knowing your sex and age.
When a piece of violent media is played and it causes a child to react negatively, it will pop up with a notification about the inappropriate content. If you agree it’s inappropriate, “the content being presented on the display is automatically altered”. This means an alternative version of this scene is played instead, perhaps toning down the violence or cutting it out entirely.
This could lead to a new type of dynamic media, where the story changes even slightly to better fit the audience. It would allow for movies to be more appealing to any given audience based on their personal reaction and not just their demographics.
When will we see this? Patents often are created just as a safe measure to prevent other companies from copying the idea, so there’s no guarantee this will actually make it into a final product. However, Sony is a company that integrates Android into their TV sets, so if we were going to see this technology come to life it would likely support Android TV. Yet this doesn’t address the artistic side of making movies, where toning down the content could affect the pacing or spirit of the content.