Some may think of facial recognition software as something intrusive, spying on their private activities. But in Korea facial recognition software is a handy method for serving up highly targeted ads. It could be the new face of future advertising – so to speak. Step up to a kiosk, any kiosk and cameras are at the ready to identify you. Are you a forty year-old man? A young woman? A harried mom? Whoever you are, an algorithm stands ready to offer you a relevant advertisement. Perhaps you’ll get coupons for a family restaurant at the mall. Perhaps, a haircut, a manicure or some other thing that the software figures would be appropriate for your age. If you’ve had a face lift, all bets are off.
Facial recognition software is an attempt to more accurately tailor ads in large public spaces. Rather than aim at broad swaths of the public with a more general approach, advertisers can take advantage of the latest in facial recognition technology to customize the ads to the people who are in those spaces. Even more, as the demographic mix shifts according to the time of day, the ads could also shift to accommodate say, coffee moms at mid-morning, teenagers in the after school hours and possibly beer specials during happy hour. The possibilities could be endless.
Beyond kiosks at the Korean mall, facial recognition type systems are already making their way into other arenas around the world – including actual arenas. Already there are rumblings over devices in U.S. restaurants that might “recognize” regular customers, and offer up deals on their favorite menu items. There could be integration with Facebook and other social media sites. In Australia some of this technology is being used to monitor faces in reaction to television shows. Ah, Big Brother indeed. Meanwhile, a facial recognition system is being installed in a Seoul, Korea suburb to monitor traffic and criminal activity. In such a scenario, would be easy to run but hiding requires a lot more effort.