Billboards That Scan Your Features And Figure Out Your Age And Gender Are Not At All Creepy

Shoppers at discount store Tesco in the U.K. might get the unnerving feeling that someone is watching them. Something is. The chain is using sophisticated software to identify customers and beam ads at them. No, not by name: by demographic.

The software from a British company called Amscan can scan a person’s appearance and tell whether they’re a 50-year-old woman or a 20-year-old man. It does this based on visual cues that are proprietary and highly creepy.

In the example provided in a Businessweek article on the software, this pair might be captured on camera while putting gas petrol in their SUV two-door hatchback. When it’s midmorning, the middle-aged woman is more likely to buy coffee if it’s advertised to her; the young man might prefer a soda or energy drink. The system serves up ads to them accordingly on the gas pump screens.

“No image or picture of customers is recorded or captured, nor is any personal data captured,” a spokesperson for the company that makes the software behind this creepiness told Businessweek in a statement that is not at all unnerving.

Tesco’s In-Store Ads Watch You—and It Looks Like You Need a Coffee [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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  1. Shappie says:

    Minority Report, anyone?

  2. SingleMaltGeek says:

    If it really works as described, with no data retained and nothing connected to the personally identifying information entered at the pump, then I don’t have a problem with it. But then, I also do my best to ignore crap like this, so I don’t think it would affect me much…except I’d probably clean my windows a lot more often in order to get away from the crapvertising.

    But as for offering people different choices based on demographics, lots of vendors and advertisers do that anyway, this just automates it.

  3. Psylent1 says:

    I always thought it would have been more interesting in Minority Report if his new eyes had come from a woman. Every add would be for women’s clothing, women’s products, etc.

    Makes you wonder what happens if this new system gets it’s analysis wrong? What if the person is Transgendered?
    “Sweetie, why is that gender scan program showing you Monster Trucks, Power Tools and Old Spice?”