Facial Recognition Finds A Purpose… And It's Advertising, Not Surveillance

from the i-spy-you,-i-advertise-to-you dept

After 9/11, there was all sorts of talk about how there would be a boom in the markets for security and surveillance technology, with facial recognition technology seen as a key area. That sounded great… except for the simple fact that the technology doesn’t work. Various tests of the technology for security purposes found that it not only didn’t catch any criminals, but it couldn’t even catch the control “tester” criminals. Basically, the technology isn’t good at seeing someone walk by and identifying exactly who it is — which is necessary for such security purposes. However, if you dial back the requirements, the technology is probably at least decent for recognizing if someone is male or female, young or old. That’s why we see it being used for age verification in Japan, and now it’s starting to get used for customized billboards around the world. The billboards include small hidden cameras that try to determine general demographic, and then the billboard will play a video add targeted to you. It’s not quite Minority Report where the ads are perfectly targeted — but unlike in using the technology to search for terrorists, these billboards don’t need to be quite as exact. And, of course, the other benefit to all of this is that the billboard companies (in theory) get a better idea of who’s actually looking at the billboard — something that companies have struggled with for years.

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Comments on “Facial Recognition Finds A Purpose… And It's Advertising, Not Surveillance”

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Ihateadvertising says:

So stupid.

Want to know who’s actually looking at your sh*tty billboard? I can tell you the answer without all that technology. It’s NO ONE. Just like how no one looks at the ads on a web page, and no one reads spam mail anymore.

We’re not all mindless drones that run out and buy something as soon as you wave it in front of us.

If one of those “smart” billboards were near one of me, I would half expect it to recognize my face and apologize for insulting my intelligence. That’s my demographic. The billboard better be sucking up to me so I don’t put my fist through it.

I f*cking hate advertising. I vow that for every ad I see, I’ll ban purchasing that product for a month. 🙂

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: So stupid.

Apparently someone looks at the billboard and someone looks at the adds on the web page and apparently someone is stupid enough to open spam or else it wouldn’t exist.

Let me ask you this. If there is no advertisements how will you know what’s out there. Not that long ago I was thinking “why the hell didn’t anyone tell me this thing existed. You have to advertise these things.” They just need to be better advertisements.

Brian says:

I f*cking hate advertising. I vow that for every ad I see, I’ll ban purchasing that product for a month. 🙂

Okay. That made me laugh. In a good way, though. Advertising really gets on my nerves, too. I’ve become very blind to its existence unless I’m absolutely forced to sit through it.

These billboards might be interesting, though. You could really have some fun with them. Start watching the ad as different people walk by and you can get an idea of what said advertising company thinks of certain stereotypes.

Imagine a weight loss commercial every time a fat guy walks by? I’d feel bad for the guy for getting made fun of by a billboard, but you know I’d still laugh my ass off.

Or maybe a suicide prevention hot-line shows up when an emo/goth kid walks by. I’d probably die.

All kidding aside, though. This idea sucks.

Tone says:

Re: Re:

lol pretty funny….

But this seem to have many default specaly if more than one person walk by.
Say if a fat guy and a average size girl walk by at the same time if the advertisment target the fat guy, and a wait loss adv. comes on then what well the girl think (more importantly how well she feel)

On top of that it isnt that advertisment is bad but that advertisment dosnt allows have anything to do wit the product being sold.
EX. Sexy girl walk in front of the screen and starts moanig….the product being sold is shampoo…..(think about it)
And the main reasoning behind it is SEX SELLS and it realy dose , because after seeing this commercial you will have to rember it , and when u go to walmart to pick up some shampoo what set “the shampoo” from all the other is that you rember hearing about it…….

David says:

Advertising is not the problem

Come on guys! Advertising is not the problem. It is the CRAPPY advertising that is the problem. Have you ever seen advertising in countries where every new ‘customer’ counts? Take South Africa. I love the ads from there. Whenever I go there I spend more time watching the ads on TV than the crappy programming. They get all our channels, just a few weeks later. The ads are really good there, even the print ads. The problem is that here we have a bunch of mindless idiots that just finished college that dream up all the new crap. Cannot really call it new, seeing that they just do the same sh*t over and over. There is hardly any innovation.

Here we have a new innovation, but I bet the ads they will show will still be the same old tired BS that we have seen over the past 100 years.

So in conclusion – advertising is not the problem – au contraire – advertising keeps this web site going – the problem is the bad advertising. Maybe it is because movies are so sh*tty these days, so the ad people do not have any inspiration anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, I think you’re taking the surveillance aspect way too lightly. I’m not the paranoid type, but this technology has some very real implications on privacy and civil liberties, and it may be closer to a reality than you let on.

Naomi Klein did an interesting piece that appeared in Rolling Stone lately that detailed the booming surveillance industry in China, and the U.S. connections some of these companies have. (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/20797485/chinas_allseeing_eye)

As for ads, I somewhat agree with David. Yes, bad advertising is the worse problem, but the abundance of ads in the US is (to me) rather offensive. Ads do keep sites like this going, but should ads be necessary at bus stops and subway stations to keep the trains running? I say no.

www.custompcmax.com (user link) says:

Advertising is not the core problem. It is when companies don’t know when to tone it down. If you are constantly being bombarded with advertisements, I feel they become less effective. If they are done with taste, and proper placement, they can be very effective. And half of advertising isn’t really “looked at” but creates a sub-concience sort of memory of the product. Which may be recalled at a later date, and you didn’t even realize why.

Wolfy says:

This story is a good example of the utility of carrying a few balloons filled with black paint! I’ve seen a disturbing trend for churches to put up LED video billboards on the roadside. Not only is the idea that I’m too stupid to seek out religion, and need it “brought” to me, is extremely offensive to me, but these things are going to cause accidents, especially at night, because they are so bright, they kill a driver’s night vision.



oh no, it doesn’t work! We’re really screwed now. How are we going to catch

all of the T E R R O R I S T S

running rampant throughout the US! Something MUST be done to save us all.

OK fine, I’ll go first – please inject us with RFID chips!! Please!!!! I beg you!!! And please make us carry around a National ID Card (oops, that’s already on the way)

😉 to the NSA guy (from yesterday) reading this- Call me.

steven (user link) says:


i have seen this company popping up around the place, looks interesting. its called Beezag.
you go their site and you only watch advertising, no content at all! sounds strange, well once you get there you tell them your likes and interests, and they send you commercials that actually have a use to you, shocking huh! but it makes sense, i dont personally hate advertising, i just hate watching things that are irrelevant to me. so I check out this site daily now, and i find out cool new products and get discounts, and don’t have to see pointless commercials any more!

i think you can use my pin to sign up, check it out.
pin code. ssham1

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