Friday, 19 November 2010

Facial recognition for profiling - by drinks machine

Privacy advocates may be somewhat concerned that a vending machine now exists in Japan, installed in a Tokyo train station, which uses sensors and facial recognition technology to discern a potential customer's gender and age and "recommend" drinks accordingly (based on market research as to the preferences of different ages and gender).

So it offers canned coffee to men (green tea if they're in their 50s), and tea or a sweeter drink to women in their 20s. It even makes different suggestions depending on the time of day.

Sales have apparently tripled following introduction of that technology, and the company involved, JR East Water Business Co (subsidiary of railway company) JR East Co, plans to expand to 500 such machines in Tokyo and neighbouring areas by March 2012.

Talk about biometrics profiling for advertising and marketing! But one can imagine the technology, and indeed individual machines, being used for many more purposes. A sign of times to come?

(What really gives me pause is the go ahead given to Spanish scientists to use silicon barcodes to individually tag human oocytes and embryos for identification - they "aim to develop an automatic code reading system". Are the barcodes going to be removed after birth? Can they be?)

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