Print 26 comment(s) - last by afkrotch.. on Jul 19 at 11:01 PM

  (Source: Dreamworks)

One of the scanning billboards springs into action.  (Source: AFP)
Is technology another great step in advertising or an outrageous violation of privacy?

In Tokyo Big Brother is really watching you -- but Big Brother is actually big business.  Businesses on the island nation are reportedly rolling out advertising billboards with cameras that scan nearby viewers' age and sex.  Japanese firms believe they can use these metrics, much like internet advertising, to better target customers.

The project, the Digital Signage Promotion Project, was launched by 11 railroad companies last month.  Twenty-seven of the vigilant billboards are deployed in subway commuter stations around Tokyo.

A spokeperson describes, "The camera can distinguish a person's sex and approximate age, even if the person only walks by in front of the display, at least if he or she looks at the screen for a second."

The station can then serve up ads "which meet the interest of people who use the station at a certain time."

The invention mirrors the smart billboards found in the movie "Minority Report" directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise.  In that film Cruise's character is recognized by advertising billboards which say his name aloud, endangering him when he's on the run form the law.

Currently the Japanese experiment does not recognize individuals -- only basic demographic data.  And the companies involve promise that video of their passing customers won't be stored.

Japan is often a nation who takes an edgy stance on privacy.  A Japanese firm recently created a stir when it released a "caring", "mothering" system to help businesses snoop on their employees cell phones.

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Interesting, very interesting indeed.
By Daniel8uk on 7/16/2010 9:48:38 AM , Rating: 2
So when a middle-aged man walks past it'll show ads for Porches and Viagra, now that could be quite embarrassing.

RE: Interesting, very interesting indeed.
By amanojaku on 7/16/2010 9:59:43 AM , Rating: 5
It's TOKYO. Ads targeted to middle-aged men would include Asahi-drinking, Japan-destroying monsters with 1,000,000 furry-teenage-girl-raping tentacles.

Did I miss any stereotypes?

By Anoxanmore on 7/16/2010 10:07:57 AM , Rating: 5
Yes you forgot drifting. :)

RE: Interesting, very interesting indeed.
By Kurz on 7/16/2010 11:07:53 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Interesting, very interesting indeed.
By amanojaku on 7/16/2010 11:14:35 AM , Rating: 5
Gangster-apocalyptic-monster-hentai. But no drifting. The only drifting middle-aged Japanese men do is from the cosplay restaurant to the love hotel.

These comments are guaranteeing me a place in Hell. :-)

RE: Interesting, very interesting indeed.
By Anoxanmore on 7/16/2010 11:27:13 AM , Rating: 2
If you think middle aged Japanese men don't drift, you've never been to Tokyo. :)

It is kind of like the NASCAR of the US, they are all middle-aged hicks :)

By afkrotch on 7/19/2010 11:01:10 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently you've never been to Tokyo, if you think they're all middle aged. They are more like 22-45. Definitely not high school kids, like that stupid Fast and Furious movie.

By jvillaro on 7/17/2010 1:11:50 AM , Rating: 2
Funky cellphones and cameras!

Doubt it...
By seamonkey79 on 7/16/2010 9:20:50 AM , Rating: 5
My only interest is to not have all this advertising thrown at me, as it tends to make me less likely to buy a product, because most of it is disgusting.

RE: Doubt it...
By ImSpartacus on 7/16/2010 9:26:22 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly, they have to find things that you enjoy. Once they understand that, you don't mind anymore.

If you're an OSU Buckeye fan, you don't mind ads about OSU jerseys or Buckeye necklaces. What you don't want is an ad for a Michigan jersey. That's not cool.

I think once ads become relevant to the individual, everybody wins.

RE: Doubt it...
By BZDTemp on 7/16/2010 9:35:01 AM , Rating: 4
I think calling it winning is a stretch but I do agree that relevant ads will be less annoying than random ones.

To me winning is what the AdBlock+ and FlashBlock plug-ins brings to me as a Firefox user. Those and the BugMeNot plug-in makes for the best possible browser experience. No ads fill the screen, no bandwidth is use to download the ads and no need to sign-up to read newspaper articles and the like.

PS. Thank you to all those not blocking ads which sort of pay for my surfing :-)

RE: Doubt it...
By ImSpartacus on 7/16/2010 10:02:08 AM , Rating: 2
See that's it. I use AB+ on FF and Chrome, but in the ideal world, I wouldn't mind glancing over a relevant ad. If I an genuinely interested in the ad, there's no problem. I would like to support websites that I enjoy.

But like you said, bandwidth is a problem. I would not tolerate a bunch of Flash ads on my laptop, even if I found them appropriate. That's a problem.

I think if ads were more relevant to the user, they wouldn't have to use heavy flash. If I am truly interested in a subject, they could simply use a linked image.

One can dream, eh?

RE: Doubt it...
By jimhsu on 7/16/2010 10:59:13 AM , Rating: 2
You can only take relevance so far before you infringe on serious privacy issues (at least with this type of public advertising). An example:

- Acceptable: You are a big fan of chocolate. An ad pops up next to you advertising Ghiradelli's new special dark series.

- Questionable: You're on your way to an interview and a billboard is next to your boss's office. An ad pops up with several real estate deals around your area (you currently rent).

- Unacceptable: You've been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. An ad pops up suggesting a "natural herbal remedy" for Alzheimer's when you walk by.

See where I'm getting at here?

RE: Doubt it...
By tedrodai on 7/16/2010 11:06:32 AM , Rating: 2
You may be right...cause even a stick like me occassionally finds some ads interresting.

I'm 28 and haven't watched broadcasted TV for 5 years, except
1) football and the random sport
2) when it's the social thing to do (usually when the wife really wants to watch TV and also wants me to stay in the room)

I used to watch as much TV as the average joe, but those freaking ads just kept getting more and more annoying. If I find a show worth watching, I much prefer to watch it online at the station's website (which hasn't gotten too annoying yet for me) or just stream the DVDs through Netflix when they're available.

Some ads literraly make me cringe and want to turn off the TV then and there (ex: every Orbit gum commercial).

RE: Doubt it...
By delphinus100 on 7/16/2010 9:08:58 PM , Rating: 2
But what if the ads succeed?

I might still be annoyed, if I keep seeing targeted ads for Chevys, Sony TVs, whatever, if I did just buy one...

But then, would I want to surrender that information, either?

Last Picture Posted
By FDisk City on 7/16/2010 9:35:04 AM , Rating: 5
So, the scanning billboard identified the guy as a middle-aged housecat that could use a spa?

RE: Last Picture Posted
By tng on 7/16/2010 9:59:51 AM , Rating: 2
LOL. I had to go back and check the pic again and you are right....

RE: Last Picture Posted
By daveinternets on 7/16/2010 12:01:44 PM , Rating: 3
I think the ad found he was a young man who might need to go to a spa and get some.....

RE: Last Picture Posted
By Integral9 on 7/16/2010 12:57:41 PM , Rating: 2
I thought it was offering him a happy ending from a middle-aged housecat at a spa... o.O

RE: Last Picture Posted
By Belard on 7/16/2010 3:49:29 PM , Rating: 2
Would you Like a breast Augmentation? ABACABA Industries is offering a buy 1 get 1 free promotion if you call now!

We have new stock as the Strip Club down the street.

RE: Last Picture Posted
By Etern205 on 7/16/2010 11:29:56 PM , Rating: 2
This ad probably isn't targeted towards that guy walking by as in the article is says you need to look at the camera before it can display "your" ad. Looks like the photographer is probably a female (probably wearing fur accessories) who happens to take the picture as the guy was walking by which in return the ad billboard mixed the two up and think it's a cat with boobies?

This is pretty cool
By ImSpartacus on 7/16/2010 9:24:21 AM , Rating: 2
You know, as much I love anonymity, I like relevant ads.

When I see a Newegg banner ad, I often will click it and check out the deals. I might not buy anything, but it gets me that much closer and I don't mind at all.

I would rather have ads that I genuinely enjoy than junk that I will never even bother with.

RE: This is pretty cool
By Ammohunt on 7/16/2010 1:15:43 PM , Rating: 2
newegg ads are like crack for nerds i can never get enough of them myself.

What would happen.....
By tmouse on 7/16/2010 9:25:04 AM , Rating: 2
So I wonder what would happen if someone like "Androgynous PAT" from the old SNL skit stopped by and looked at it?

Here in the US that would probably end up in a law suit. I can see the shark ads now..

"Have you ever been referred to as a member of the opposite sex in public? Stop the embarrassment and call Cheatem and Steele were on your side!"

By Wererat on 7/16/2010 5:06:06 PM , Rating: 2
Watch out if someone glances over and an ad pops up for Fruity Oaty Bars.

By dewlim on 7/17/2010 12:12:54 AM , Rating: 2
I hope it won't be used to track us like in the movie. The eye transplant scene in the show really freak me out!

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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