Fans of the Tom Cruise sci-fi movie, Minority Report, may remember as he walked through a store and the signs recognized him and began tailoring advertisements specifically to his interests. That technology is about to go from fiction to reality, as one of the world’s largest grocery and gas chains prepares to implement something very similar in its stores.
Tesco, the world’s third-largest grocery chain, and the largest in Great Britain, is installing a technology developed by Amscreen that will scan customers’ faces as they approach a check out till or gas pump. The device will detect the individual’s gender and approximate age, then begin showing ads geared to the appropriate demographic.
Of course, the technology is not without its detractors. Privacy groups are already up in arms about the devices, fearing that it will lead to further tracking of individual’s activities. Many groups are calling for warning signs about the new advertising technique in all Tesco stores. Of course, at this point, the technology is not quite advanced as its science-fiction counterpart, so it will not actually be able to identify who the individual is and call them by name, so supporters of the technology see the backlash as paranoid overreaction.
No word yet on precog’s or flying police patrols, but given that holographic interfaces are already in the works, it is probably just a matter of time.