The TV that counts heads

London - An unintentionally hilarious patent was filed by Microsoft last week featuring televisions that are able to assess how many people are in the room watching.

“Viewers may be uniquely identified and the count of the viewers determined,” runs the blurb, “with the licensee then charged for each viewer accessing the content.”

The world's largest software company said there were 'significant inaccuracies' in the media reports last week. Credit: AFP

This suggests so many faintly comical scenes that it's hard to know where to start - from someone wandering in the room while you're watching a film and accidentally costing you a fiver, to a wonderful error screen constructed in Photoshop by some waggish type on a messageboard this week, that reads: “SORRY DAVE - TOO MANY FRIENDS.”

Microsoft was quick to respond that not all patents applied for or received are incorporated into finished products - but it's a grim reminder of the onerous world of digital rights management.

The music business has pretty much abandoned it, having established that, as an anti-piracy measure, it tends to give people more incentive to commit acts of piracy. But this patent - even if it's merely an act of corporate land-grabbing - is an indication that the DRM question is not one that's going away in a hurry. - The Independent