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‘Minority Report’-esque Big Brother Billboards are Coming to England

By: LibertyBlitzkrieg.com

Much of the shift is being driven by today’s enhanced data-collection and analysis power. Ocean’s three new billboards in Birmingham, shaped like large human eyes, will broadcast ads like regular digital billboards, but have the ability to change based on how many of a certain group are within “eyesight” of the camera.

But software will analyze the feeds to pick up facial features and how long a person looked at an advertisement, according to Olivier Duizabo, chief executive of Quividi, the company that made the software.

– From the Wall Street Journal article: England to Roll Out Tailored Billboards

I assume many of you have seen the movie Minority Report. For those who haven’t, there’s a famous scene during which the protagonist, John Anderton, who works in the department of Precrime, walks through a mall and is bombarded with personalized billboards. The year is 2054. If what is happening in England is any indication, it’s not going to take anywhere near that long.

Before getting into today’s story, here’s the relevant clip from the movie:

The Wall Street Journal reports that:

BIRMINGHAM, England—Advances in image-detection software are starting to enliven one of the world’s oldest forms of advertising: the billboard.

Ocean Outdoor U.K. Ltd., one of Britain’s largest digital billboard companies, is rolling out in September an advertising system at the main train station here that will use the technology to help tailor ads to commuters.

Cameras placed in the billboards will capture images of people at the station and beam those back to computers, which will analyze characteristics like gender and age. That will help create ads displayed on the billboards—a series of giant screens atop the station’s busiest entrances.

The system also beams out free Wi-Fi. In exchange, users agree to share data, which can then help further refine what best to broadcast on the billboards. It will also help select ads the system can push to commuters’ mobile devices.

Until recently, the concept has been confined to Hollywood—and long the subject of controversy. In the 2002 film “Minority Report,” Tom Cruise’s character is bombarded by personalized, moving billboard ads after an eye scan.

Ocean’s more basic technology can pick out a few general characteristics from its cameras—such as age, gender and how long a person looks at the advertisement. The system won’t be able to recognize the identities of specific people, an Ocean spokeswoman said, because the cameras won’t compare its images to any sort of database with personal information. The system isn’t designed to target individuals, but the “wider crowd of individuals within the camera’s range,” and the system doesn’t hold on to images.

Much of the shift is being driven by today’s enhanced data-collection and analysis power. Ocean’s three new billboards in Birmingham, shaped like large human eyes, will broadcast ads like regular digital billboards, but have the ability to change based on how many of a certain group are within “eyesight” of the camera.

But software will analyze the feeds to pick up facial features and how long a person looked at an advertisement, according to Olivier Duizabo, chief executive of Quividi, the company that made the software.

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