Remember the movie Minority Report and those eye-scanners that could identify "pre-crime" suspects? Pretty creepy, eh? Well, your supermarket could be going the same sci-fi route, with digital display ads that scan shoppers' faces. The displays contain monitors with embedded cameras that constantly film people walking by. The footage is then analyzed by a program that scans each face, using such features as hair colour and eye shape to determine a person's sex and age. NEC Electronics Corp., which developed the technology, says people should not be concerned about privacy, because the data collected is anonymous and the footage is discarded after processing. Advertisers hope to use the technology to track shopping habits and determine which ads to display to potential customers. Or maybe we should call them "pre-customers"?
Dianne Nice is community editor for Report on Business and writes about social media. Previously, she was The Globe's online editor for Careers and Personal Finance and has written about these topics for Report on Business and Globe Investor. More