By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cities
Tokyo is currently testing digital advertising billboards that use cameras to understand the gender and age group of passersby who look at them.
Every time a new technology is announced, it's tempting to make a reference to the 2002 science fiction film Minority Report.
This time it's for real.
Tokyo, Japan's Digital Signage Promotion Project is currently trying out digital advertising billboards fitted with cameras that can discern the gender and age group of passersby who look at them.
The point? To tailor their commercial messages to the onlooker.
A consortium of 11 railway companies launched the pilot project last month, and has since set up 27 intelligent displays in subway commuter stations around Tokyo.
In JR Shinjuku station, straphangers are informed about two 52-inch smart billboards by a panel that reads, "Advertising survey under way; images being recorded to determine gender and age groups."
"The camera can distinguish a person's sex and approximate age, even if the person only walks by in front of the display, at least if he or she looks at the screen for a second," said a spokesman for the project to the AFP.
As you might expect, the billboards' operators promise that they will not save recorded images. What they will do is collect data about groups of people, which will help advertisers learn what works best at which locations in the city and at what time during the day.
To compare, here's the scene from the film:
According to the annual Digital Signage Japan show, the applications are almost endless:
- Shopping malls
- Department stores
- Convenience stores
- Amusement parks
- Bowling alleys
- Sports stadiums
- Transportation terminals
- Highways (!)
What do you think: invasion of privacy, or brilliance in marketing?
Jul 15, 2010
Yup, I can Just see this technology being exploited, just wait till a pedafile gets a hold of one of these!
Wow! Now we just need to pair this technology up with a database that stores citizens facial profiles and we?ll have a human radar system that can find where anyone is and make money doing it by selling ad space on the tracking system. Who says theirs not innovation in tyranny & control? Don?t forget that in The Minority Report that same recognition system was used to locate people which is fine when the system is not being abused; not so when it is being abused. And if you think something like this won?t be abused you need only look at what has already happened with the naked body scanners at airports. Inappropriate pictures, mostly celebrities, are making the rounds World Wide Web. This is actually very cool but because fo the current political powered environment, its simply more scary for its potential for abuse then it is cool.
This isn't particularly new. A company in the US, Video Mining, has been doing this on a small scale for years. Now their primary focus is monitoring traffic in retail environments utilizing software which identifies gender and age. I've seen it. The accuracy was moderate though it could definetly be fooled. In general you're looking for statistical trends not targeting individuals so it's not a huge deal.
Quote:Also, can it get confused by something in the background, like a plant making a guy look like he has a feminine hairstyle? For more fun, put 2 of these across from each other. Man walks by and an ad with a beautiful lady shows. Other ad sees the lady in the ad, and shows a male model. Thus, a love connection is made between the two screens. This reminds me of more silly stuff. At a company that I was at about 20 years ago they had a box of auto record playback modules from children's toys(parrot or doll which repeats what you say after a few seconds automaticly) which were very new at the time. I took 4 of them & put in each corner of the room facing each other corner to corner.I then said hello all hell broke loose as each one repeated it to each other faster & faster until they screamed at each other as did the owner... whose voice was picked up & added to the confusion!I cant remember what they did with them but the company supplied electronic surveillance equipment, among other things to government departments & military. I worked on some interesting custom built things.If Mr bond had it "they" wanted it even if It could not be done with the technology of the time.
Let's see... it doesn't save the images and I don't get ads for feminine hygiene products or Geritol. I see no problems here. One problem with not saving images: I hope they are testing the accuracy well on these in some way, especially when bringing the technology to other countries, where faces and clothes will look different. Also, can it get confused by something in the background, like a plant making a guy look like he has a feminine hairstyle? For more fun, put 2 of these across from each other. Man walks by and an ad with a beautiful lady shows. Other ad sees the lady in the ad, and shows a male model. Thus, a love connection is made between the two screens.
Reminds me of a very early version of this technology.In some amusement arcades. There was an automatic fortune telling machine. you stood on a platform like a weighing machine,inserted a coin placed hand on a plate( just for show hype) a ticket came out with your fortune (pre-printed with random rubbish) one for men & one for women. How did it know the difference? simple a photoelectric cell detected if the person was wearing a dress,& then printed the correct ticket. (unless a small piece of gum was placed on the cell....) this made the whole process much more interesting,for the placer but not the management.confusing the new machines should be even more fun!
Ah, the ultimate in "profiling" - OK if a machine does it. This from someone who thinks "they all look alike". I'll leave it to you to figure out who "they" are. (smirk)
Wonder if different races confuse the system. I'm Caucasian, so if I take a look at one of these will it get confused? What about little people? Even better, transgenders? Just curious about how the recognition software works as most of what I have seen so far is based on facial expressions, identifying people by matching them to a photo in a database, or looking for actions/activites that fit or possilby do not fit a certain pattern for the purpose of crime prevention.