Facial Recognition: It’s Here, But Are We Ready for It?
Kiosks, in-store displays, websites – facial recognition software is popping up everywhere. Marketers and major brands are working together to capitalize on the untapped potential of such software, bringing our modern world ever closer to the world of Minority Report.
From Facebook to Adidas to Kraft and more, some of the biggest brands around are pushing to use recognition technology in innovative new ways.
For months now, Facebook has been using facial recognition to automatically detect the individual faces that appear in uploaded photos and assign names accordingly. Of course, being the first company out of the gate to make such software widely known to the public has put them on the receiving end of a number of privacy complaints.
As the L.A. Times points out, “privacy advocates worry the technology is one more way for companies to quietly gather data about people without their permission or even knowledge.” Could that be the case? Are the Facebook execs using the software as part of a malicious ploy to invade our personal space for the sake of their own personal gain? Probably not. Realistically, facial recognition software just makes the photo-sharing process a more seamless experience for users.
Somewhat different, however, is the use of such technology by major retail brands – notably, Adidas and Kraft Foods – who apparently are working to implement it as a means to drive sales. According to Brandchannel, “are considering using the technology in stores to help consumers make purchase decisions, with software being developed by Intel and other tech companies.”
Adidas reportedly has plans to use “facial recognition [systems] in street hoardings and on shopping centre screens to estimate a shopper’s age, gender and tastes.” Naturally, they’ll be better able to generate product suggestions based on those estimations.
Similarly, Kraft is in talks to make its new meal-recommendation kiosk a prominent fixture in grocery stores. “So, when [a customer] passes by the kiosk, the digital signage, equipped with a freaky sort of Anonymous Video Analytics technology, zooms in on his or her face and instantly determines gender and age group to guess what products might exert some allure.”
Are Adidas and Kraft ushering in a new era of expedience for shoppers, or are they crossing the privacy line for the sake of increasing sales? When we have the chance to see the tech in action, we’ll likely be able to decide for ourselves.
Perhaps the best example of a company’s usage of the software is by the UK brand Frijj, which uses facial recognition to generate consumer engagement on its website and to elicit humorous results:
Innovative? Absolutely. Invasive? Maybe a little bit. If anything, Frijj’s use of facial recognition is proof that the software can be used in inventive ways without being off-putting.
Brands small and large will likely be on the bandwagon soon enough, but the court is still in session on whether or not this new approach to marketing is a beneficial one. As is usually the case, it all depends on the public’s reaction – and if the reaction to Facebook’s current usage of the technology is any indication, facial recognition may very well prove to be a short-lived experiment for marketers.
Passersby in grocery stores and retail outlets may not be so eager to interact with the kiosks and displays featuring the software. They may ultimately see it as more of a gimmick than an actual shopping aid.
If anything though, it’s certainly a forward-thinking approach, and there’s always something to be said for that.
What are your thoughts on facial recognition? Will it be the next big thing, or is far too invasive? Let us know in the comments!
Image source: warrenski
Joseph is the head of the Media Team at Quality Logo Products. He's a video specialist, blogger, perfectionist, and all-around likeable guy. When he's not busy focusing on the nitty-gritty details of his written and visual work, he's normally listening to bad 80s music and scouring the internet for useless information on useless subjects. You can also connect with Joe on Google+.