Friday, June 7, 2013

Personalized advertising with facial detection

“Cara” is new facial detection software from IMRSV that uses a standard webcam to scan faces up to 25 feet away and determines age and gender. It’s currently being used on a wall of shoes in the back of a Reebok store in Fifth Avenue in New York, where it is helping the store to see which customers are spending more time at the shoe wall, quickly walking away, or actually buying something.

If this experiment goes well, Reebok could install an advertising display that would intelligently react to different customers. For instance, if I were to walk into a store and pick up a pair of size 10 running shoes, a video might pop up on the screen to tell me about these shoes.

No, really.

According to IMRSV, Cara collects data with 93% detection accuracy. Its demographics include gender (92% accuracy), and age (Child, young adult, adult, senior, with 80% accuracy).  It detects at a distance of up to 25 feet away and can scan multiple people at the same time. In addition to customized marketing, Cara could be used to watch audiences during live performances and monitor whether drivers are looking at the road, says IMRSV.

While this is all quite fascinating, I can’t help but think of a scene in Minority Report, where Tom Cruise is walking down a hallway rather quickly and the digital billboards are bombarding him with personalized ads. (Check it out here.) While the technology isn’t nearly as intrusive—it’s certainly not scanning your retina and immediately placing exactly who you are and where you’re from—it is eerily reminiscent of the futuristic adverts portrayed in the film.

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