We’ve all seen facial and retina scanning technology in sci-fi films like, Minority Report, Mission Impossible, and The Bourne series. Usually some top secret agent is trying to get access to a heavily guarded door, a red scanner beams across his face and a green light indicates his access has been granted.
While Hollywood may have disillusioned us, it’s now nearly 2012 and this technology is becoming a reality in a very prominent way. We’ve all seen Facebook’s use of biometric data to auto-tag our photos, and XBOX Kinect’s controller-free, sync-to-your-body gaming experience, but what happens when these technologies start to enter the public realm?
In the Chicago area for instance, several bars have partnered with smartphone app, SceneTap, installing specialized cameras to analyze their patrons. Male-to-female ratio, age, and number of patrons are all sent to the application’s users who may be curious about this information before hopping to the next bar. Think this sounds pretty awesome? Well, marketers do too.
Immersive Labs, a Manhattan based advertising company, has developed billboards that are so smart, they can analyze passerbys and effectively target advertisements to the demographic. The technology is still young, but future projects look to billboards that are able to detect hair quality to display an ad for the appropriate shampoo. Further potential lies in detecting emotion to display various recommended pharmaceuticals.
This technology opens a whole new realm of analytics to marketers. No longer will data solely consist of arbitrary numbers that are up for interpretation, but rather, entire sets of in-depth analysis will be able to read specific reactions to an advertisement. Marketers may approach their trade with a new set of tools, adding a whole new element to global consumption of goods.
Still, one can’t help but wonder how these advanced technologies will affect our daily privacy. While technological advancement is certainly exciting, it’s hard not to question the repercussions of our advancement. On the other hand, these same questions have probably been raised for centuries as we continue to take technological steps forward. Here’s to the next decade.