This must be the week of "face recognition" false alarms. Last week, I blogged about PayPal's face recognition at the point of sale, saying it wasn't as revolutionary as it sounded.
Today, I'm blogging about face recognition at Tesco checkouts, but it's not actually for payment verification.
Using ad-mounted cameras, Tesco will be able to identify a customer's gender, age and how long they look at an ad.
As BusinessWeek's Carol Matlack wrote (Nov. 4), Tesco is introducing video cameras and software (from a UK company called Amscreen) at 450 of its gas stations that collects shopper data in order to "guess" their rough age and gender.
"By matching that information with data on their purchases, Tesco can tell that a middle-aged woman buying gas in suburban London at 11 a.m. on a weekday might be in the mood for a coffee, while a man in his early 20s would probably prefer a soft drink."
According to The Drum's Steven Raeburn (Nov. 4), the Amscreen software is called "Optimeyes" and cameras are installed within digital advertising displays above the tills. The software can identify not only gender and age, but also how long they look at the ad.
Brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their targets, but who they are too.Amscreen CEO Simon Sugar
Amscreen chief executive Simon Sugar says the technology "could change the face of British retail and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible.”
“Brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their targets, but who they are too.”
Of course, "who" is a matter of speaking. If Tesco, Amscreen or advertisers are able track exactly who is buying what and when, they would find themselves in a privacy boondoggle.
Tesco says no personal data would be captured by the new technology.
"A spokesperson for Tesco explained to The Drum that no image or picture of customers would be recorded or captured and no personal data would be captured by the technology either," wrote Raeburn.