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  (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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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
GREETING MISS!
Would you Like a breast Augmentation? ABACABA Industries is offering a buy 1 get 1 free promotion if you call now!

HELLO SIR!
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?


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