Reverse 911 for your television?

You've heard of "reverse 911" communications systems, right?

That's where a police department can mass-dial thousands of homes an hour to make a pre-recorded announcement about a safety hazard. Perfect for when a child has gone missing, for example, and they need a neighborhood's help.


Well, Sony is trying to take that approach one step further: to your television set.

The technology giant last year filed a patent application for "reverse 911 using a TV." The filing states that emergency communications are transmitted by television "broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite and radio service providers."


Sony believes it can do the same thing using the Internet and a networked television.

The company believes networked televisions, which will have their own IP address, will become more common. How will such an emergency broadcast system work?

The reverse 911 message will come over the Internet and across your TV display. If your TV is off, the message will have the capacity to turn the TV set on (yes), so you could be alerted even when you're not paying attention.

How about that? Do you feel comfortable with Sony potentially building TV sets that can automatically turn on  in your home thanks to a signal from the government?

Mind you, it's just a patent filing and such a system may never get built. But it is now possible to do.