Billboards With Cameras Bring Us One Step Closer to 'Minority Report'

Advertising has always been an enterprise fraught with uncertainty. How can you know if all that money you're paying is actually making you a return? Who's actually even giving your advertisements a look? And are those people really paying attention? With some forms of media (e.g. on the internet), these questions are relatively easy to answer, but with other forms, like billboards, it's still a significant gamble.

Enter billboard cameras, the type that can monitor not only how many people see a billboard, but what type of people they are too:

They are equipping billboards with tiny cameras that gather details about passers-by — their gender, approximate age and how long they looked at the billboard. These details are transmitted to a central database. Behind the technology are small start-ups that say they are not storing actual images of the passers-by, so privacy should not be a concern. The cameras, they say, use software to determine that a person is standing in front of a billboard, then analyze facial features (like cheekbone height and the distance between the nose and the chin) to judge the person’s gender and age. So far the companies are not using race as a parameter, but they say that they can and will soon. The goal, these companies say, is to tailor a digital display to the person standing in front of it — to show one advertisement to a middle-aged white woman, for example, and a different one to a teenage Asian boy.

Nothing could go wrong with this plan, right? Hit the Link and decide for yourself.

(image by flickr user simon scott)

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@dan - in minority report (the movie at least) the billboards used a camera to read your iris, then gave personalized ads (spoiler:this is the reason he got the transplant)
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I often stop and read billboards, then grimace, shake my head and walk on in disgust. Will that be picked up?

dan: there was a sequence in Minority Report where the hero was escaping down a street, trying to be anonymous, and all the billboards were recognizing him and calling his name out, targeting him with ads.

True, while in public you are not in private, but it should be reasonable to expect not to be recorded in everything you do.
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i never saw the movie minority report, but i read the story and there arent cameras everywhere, just 3 mutants who can predict the future.
and about the cameras, they are already everywhere, we just dont notice them
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Next are the cameras in every home (aside from your cell phone which is a roving bug and may be easily tapped at any time, google if you don't believe me for information which is published, imagine all that's not published) and the average person who says to the one who refuses them, "We already have them everywhere outside, so why not? Are you crazy?" And they'll medicate and lock up those who refuse them. Honestly, they don't need them with all of the cell phones around. And if you don't have a cell phone and need to be watched then there are many other covert ways, including mysterious break ins and sneak n peaks, among others.
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