Sunday, February 21, 2010

Big Brother Is Watching.

You know that electronic billboard you see on your way to work everyday? Soon, it may see you, too. A system developed in Singapore lets advertising screens, like those big billboards, detect the genders of passers-by. Seriously. It will soon be able to tell how old they are, too. IBM has worked on systems that can scan a crowd and estimate numbers, demographics, and where people are looking. (Scared yet?) Cameras are cheap and sophisticate enough to spot logos on your drink’s cup or shopping bags, allowing advertisers to serve up ads in response — either to reinforce your choice or promote a competitor. And now that facial recognition has become a consumer technology, it wouldn’t be difficult to install a series of ad screens that track individuals as they move through a subway system or mall, greeting them at each turn with a particular message. Great news for us as advertisers. Maybe not so great for us as … well … people.

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