Japanese company NEC wowed technophiles and horrified privacy advocates earlier this year with electronic billboards that use facial recognition technology to identify the age and gender of passers-by, tailoring the ads they display to fit the demographic. Now IBM researchers in the UK are taking that notion even further, taking advantage of new technologies to delve deeper into the personal data of people on the street, tailoring advertisements that can even call the subject by name.
The billboards they are developing rely on the RFID chips that are increasingly being built into credit cards and cell phones as a means of storing data that is accessible by contact-free sensors (like the "touch pay" feature on some credit and debit cards that doesn't require the user to swipe). A sensor on the billboard picks up on that RFID signal as the cardholder passes by, tapping information like name, age, gender, shopping habits, and personal preferences.
From there, the billboard could display an ad that is customized particularly for that person, ostensibly even calling his or her attention to it by name. It's all very Minority Report (remember when Tom Cruise passes that billboard that shouts, "John Anderton. You could use a Guinness right about now"?), but it will likely draw the ire of privacy groups who will view it as an unsolicited extraction of personal data.
Because it is. But IBM and advertising groups view it as a way to make advertising more relevant to the user, thus making consumers' lives easier and more efficient as they would no longer be bombarded by advertising that doesn't apply to them.
So Awesome. Kinda Crazy
i'm not useing any credit card with RFID, unless I wrap it in foil first
What if you watch smut films on your phone or you used your credit card at an adult store. Imagine the lawsuites they would get because it pops up a lubricant add or dirty video rental recomendation based of your shopping criteria.
I see this as a royal pain because its distracting as well, your driving or walking down steps and one calls out your name, causing you to mistep or slip and fall.
People will start wearing hats that cover half their faces and start turning off their phones when they walk around or start using more cash and leaving cards at home. It will be a reversal of technology because it will be so anoying.
Not only will this be annoying. But, what happens when you have, lets says....about 5 people walking by the same advertisement at the same time? Now that could be annoying.
@ Jedigeek93 and the rest:
They have been making cases for biz cards for years that are silver plated metal and I'll bet you can find some that can hold your credit, ID and other cards.
Heck, repaint an old Altoids case if you have to until you find something better!
Well at least RFID is better than scanning your eyes like they do in Minority Report. So if we don't want to use it, we don't need to rip our eyes out, lawl.
This is like telemarketers on steroids. Yes, at this point, it can easily be blocked, but what's next.
Maybe we could capture the heads of these ad agencies, lock then in a room, and force then to watch personalized drivel for a year or so. Maybe that would discourage them.
If it isn't the tag in your wallet or phone it will be the tags that are woven into your clothes. I do see a new business opportunity here though. I must discuss this with a friend. If he thinks it is feasible I will let you know where to get yours.
Setarip hits the nail on the head. It just doesn't make any sense from an advertiser's point of view to target out-of-home screens at individual users. As Setarip says - you have five people walking past - so what do you do? Ignore four potential customers by broadcasting a message that's so tightly tailored toward one person that it's unlikely to appeal to anyone else? Or confuse everyone by mixing up the five offers? It makes far more sense to send the ads to their individual cellphones directly, and that allows a degree of opt-in too.
A much more likely application, and one with less grotesque privacy implications (though it still has them), is to use the RFID-collected information to build up a general demographic profile of the kind of people currently walking past, then air a generic ad suited to them. In that case, the real issue is not "matching ads to audience" (which already happens in every existing medium) but "extracting data from audience without their knowledge/consent". Still, as I say, there might be opt-in ways to work around this.
I blogged a bit about this earlier in the week - www.screens.tv/blogpost/161/barnaby_page.html