Russell Davies has been writing some excellent stuff lately about the widening gap between designers’ beautiful, optimistic visions for spimes and augmented reality, and the increasingly noisy way that advertising is colonising public space. Davies points out that whilst design thinkers see a future which is (to use Matt Jones and Tom Coates‘ phrase) ‘Polite, Pertinent and Pretty‘; the reality is likely to be rude, irrelevant, and messy:
“And, what’s worse, we’re going to see the same mess writ even larger – all over our cities. If we thought urban spam was bad. Wait until it’s animated, live and augmented, skinned onto our buildings and beamed into our spex”
But its not just enough that our attention is being hijacked by intrusive commercial messages – they’re starting to look back at us as well. TruMedia’s iCapture system places a webcam in advertising displays that captures images of people looking at the ads. They then use a facial recognition system to create a demographic analysis of the people watching the ads for reporting back to the client. Here’s how it works:
The system currently anonymises all data, and doesn’t keep any of the images after extracting the data, but still – sends a shiver down your spine, doesn’t it?