Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Advertisers Are Watching You!

Have you ever looked at the technology that surrounds us and think The Jetsons isn't really as "futuristic" as it used to be? I'm amazed at some of the developments that many of us quickly adapt to and take for granted as the present-day norms.

Yesterday, I posted about a clever Oreo advertisement that, I think, is able to stick out to the common consumer who is constantly clouded by advertising these days. An article I read today, however, takes "target marketing" to a whole new level in order to grab people's scary George Orwell, "Big Brother is Watching" level. And it's happening where else? an IT multinational called NEC.

Basically it's a large (50 inch) plasma display that shows commercials, most likely located at high-traffic walking areas such as shopping malls. Big deal right? The kicker is that there is a camera located on the top of the display that, through some magically Japanese-developed technology, is able to detect the gender and age range of the person standing in front of the display. Through this detection, advertisers are able to program commercials geared toward gender and age-specified demographics in order to truly target their consumers.

The goal, obviously, is that the person in front of the display will tune in to whatever commercial is aimed at them...and through an RFID (radiofrequency identification) reader, that person can hold up their cell phone which will scan a URL for a coupon/information on the particular product/service.

Many questions popped into my head: what if multiple people, of different demographics, are standing in front of it? What if people are constantly just walking by it rather than stopping in front of it (the likely outcome) - how long does it take for the camera to process the demographics for the commercial to appear?

Questions aside, I think this is one of those "wow!" developments that really makes you think where technology could go...not in the distant the near future.

P.S. Thanks to Wired, CrunchGear, and DVICE for their articles on this.

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