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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Ihateadvertising, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 5:53am

    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. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    colony, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 6:01am


    guess i'm gonna have to start carrying a tin of spray paint, that should stop them.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Brian, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 6:11am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 6:18am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    David, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 6:24am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Brian, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 6:31am

    Don't get me wrong. I understand that advertising has its place, and I agree that the problem isn't advertising itself, but the way it's manifested.

    I just had an amusing thought and wanted to share. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 6:45am


    Actualy your idea was funny as hell. I'd probably do the same thing, but I'd still protest this use. Imagine you walk past an add and see a miss-targeted add for adult diapers or ED pills.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Keybored, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:28am

    Lose the spray paint a paint ball gun has better range. !SPLAT! Right in it's little spying camera eye. Take that you billboard you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:38am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    www.custompcmax.com, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:57am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Marketeer, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 8:02am

    Wow. The venom spewed toward advertising is a bit disturbing. If we could only channel that passion to something productive, instead of silly rants against an industry that subsidizes most of the things you take for granted as 'free' or low cost.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Greg, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 8:25am

    If one of those "smart" billboards were near one of me,...

    one of me?? are there more than just one of you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 8:45am


    Age/gender/race discrimination in advertising. Lawyers will have a fun time with that...I guarantee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    HatetobeU, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 9:08am

    Re: So stupid.

    Geee I wonder would you take the same stance when you see an ad for "Toilet Paper"?
    Might get messy!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Wolfy, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 9:09am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Media Jones, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 9:33am

    Re: Facial Recognition Ads

    Seeing a time when we spend so much time blocking out/ignoring such impositional crap that we forget what it's like to pay attention and notice our surroundings.
    $&@** all for a buck..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    snowburn14, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 10:05am

    Re: Lawsuits

    Um, you know they already do this by way of demographic information in ratings, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    tychism, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 11:33am

    Indeed they do, targeting specific demographics which include gender and age, life decisions, careers, ethnicity etc etc are bread and butter as far as marketing data goes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    RUN FOR YOUR LIIIIIVES, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 1:06pm


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 9:18pm

    I look at billboard and PORN shows up - WoOt!

    Nah, This is rather scary since I heard COMCAST has this grand plan to install cameras like this in your cable box, Hope its not in your bedroom.

    They can take their cameras and stick them up their ASS! Maybe then they can find out what died up there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    ad buster, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 12:45pm

    Re: So stupid.

    Don't just boycott...tear the thing down. That's my plan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Tone, Jun 11th, 2008 @ 1:32am


    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.......

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    steven, May 21st, 2010 @ 11:42am


    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    avi player, Nov 28th, 2011 @ 12:58am

    As for me the function of facial recognition is a very helpful one. It is the best tool to find the last traces of lost people and to catch criminals. I am also waiting when car manufacturers include facial recognition function into cars. In this case there is no way your car can be stolen from you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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