I am sure you are aware of the Internet of Things, but are you aware of the Internet of Listening. The Internet of Things takes your devices inside the home and sometimes on your body and connects them to the cloud. Nest, a smart thermostat, is connected to the cloud and adjustable by your phone on the same cloud. But it’s much more interesting than that. Nest is learning from you. It knows when you are in a room. It knows how long you are in said room. It knows when you leave said room. So it can almost gleam how you feel about said room. If you liked it, you stayed longer. If you didn’t, you stayed less. It is deducing such feelings from your interaction with the device. But what if it had more to go from? What if it heard you had cold feet? Of course,assuming it knows the difference between actual cold feet and the term “cold feet” it could turn up the heat. If it heard the sounds of amore, it could change the temperature accordingly … so if you like it hot, it can actually be hot. This may sound good to some and may sound creepy to others. However it sounds … this type of listening has already begun.

Your devices are already monitoring your conversations. If you read any of the books on Edward Snowden, you know that phones can monitor conversations even when they are off. This is not science fiction – it is in government documents. Snowden and the reporters involved would put their phones inside the hotel room refrigerators when they needed to talk about sensitive stuff. Thankfully, the refrigerators weren’t listening yet. … YET. But it’s not just sophisticated government surveillance. Samsung’s new smart TV allows you to give it instructions by voice. It also monitors conversations that aren’t telling it to turn on BETTER CALL SAUL (great show by the way). Of course, Samsung has since changed its terms to sound like it isn’t doing this.

Amazon’s Echo (I ordered one but don’t have it yet) is a device that sits in your living room and talks to you; keeps your grocery list; answers questions; plays music; and promises to learn to do many more things that I am sure I won’t need. But it’s someone else to talk to, so why not? The interesting part is the sophisticated microphone system inside it. Amazon claims it can hear your commands in a normal voice from anywhere in the room. You will forget it’s there until you say the wake up word … Alexa. But is Alexa really sleeping or is she pretending to sleep like an angry lover listening to every word and making plans? Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it, but who knows what Alexa really thinks or wants?

As I am writing this, Evernote is reading what I am typing. I wrote about Samsung’s TV and Evernote put the perfect link to the article at the bottom of this. Then it gave me a link to Amazon’s Echo when I was writing about that. Evernote is listening and adding context to what I am writing. I hope that is all Evernote is doing, but probably not. Adding context through a couple of suggested articles is one of the nice things Evernote does for me. But what if Evernote could actually hear what I was talking about in my home with my family? And what if it could take what it knows from what I’ve written and put it together with what I might be saying, doing, buying, and connect that to what other devices on the cloud are doing for me?

THE CIRCLE, by Dave Eggers, imagines a world where all is known by everyone through a connected social network with connected cameras everywhere that can hear and see everything except in the bedroom and bathroom. If you think you might be seen, you won’t commit a crime. If you are sick and alone, the world can help when they see you fall. If you want to know what the world really thinks should be done about ISIS, it’s a collective thought away. You can see the implications for privacy and it seems like future fantasy. But it is not. When they can hear what you are saying, it’s almost as telling as the cameras. And don’t forget – cameras are everywhere as well. Everything, from phones, to cams that watch your dog, to cams that watch your front door to hidden cameras all connected to the cloud. This world is becoming very transparent. Your hopes, dreams and actions are becoming more and more obvious to the cloud.

What does this mean to privacy?  There are three kinds of people in the world.  There are people who don’t want anyone knowing anything about them.  There are people who don’t care if anyone is watching them because they don’t think there is any reason why anyone would care.  In other words… the innocent people.  Then there is the group that realizes that it is all being done to sell you something…and they choose to accept that or they don’t.  It is amazing what consumers will accept in order to have the NEW.  Look at any of the app agreements and you’ll know what I am talking about.  Consumers will give up a ton to get what they think they need.

 What does this mean to marketers? Pretty simple. Your targeting is going to get laser. If someone mentions a desire for your product or service in casual conversation, it is going to show up somewhere very quickly. Your Echo, your TV, your speaker system that listens for ambient sounds, your talking refrigerator, or basically anything connected to the cloud with a microphone (remember Mr. Microphone – now think of Mr. Microphone Cloud Edition) will deliver the “context”/”way” to buy, book, get, order, find, embrace – whatever you are talking about in your home. Your Echo will send it immediately if you ask. And once every appliance is connected to every other appliance and connected to social and connected to your Apple Watch and whatever else the Cloud knows about your customer, then it isn’t selling anymore.

It’s the Internet of Listening.