Identify Shoppers by Past Purchases… and by Sight

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One of the memorable scenes in the Minority Report (Tom Cruise), a Gap billboard mis-identifies Cruise’s character by the “donated” implanted eyeballs he is “wearing.”

“[Cruise] walks into a shopping mall, where his new eyes are scanned with a telltale spark. Mistaking him for the eyeballs’ former owner, a nearby Gap billboard exclaims, “Hello, Mr. Yakamoto! Welcome back to the Gap! How’d those assorted tanktops work out for you?””

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Marketing Vox has an article on this and covers how several retailers are using RFID to do something similar. Make sure to read to the end of the article where they cover the new cutting edge stuff.

The most exciting new technology for vigilant early-adopting marketers is that of facial recognition:

Cameras embedded in digital screens that can record and identify customers as they roam stores or make purchases.

Facial-recognition technology, like those of YCD Multimedia, capture a person’s image and analyzes features (size and shape of nose, eyes, cheekbones and jawline) against their databases.

The result is a near-instant classification of a customer into a particular demographic (age, sex, even ethnicity), creating the possibility of serving highly-targeted advertisements to individual shoppers, not groups.

Of course, one can already here the shouts of protest over privacy issues (legitimate, but not insurmountable I think).

Tech firms and marketers hope to avoid privacy issues by taking care not to capture or store personally identifiable information about consumers. In June, for example, facial recognition firm TruMedia Technologies committed never to record or store video from the tracking systems in its billboards.

Cool stuff.

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