The Window to our Souls

Most of us have heard about the iphone emotion recognition app, which we previously blogged about, as well as new emotion recognition security tools such as the virtual border patrol.

All these new applications beg the questions, are we going too far with technology and are we compromising our privacy?

Now imagine sitting in traffic on the freeway and a billboard reads your facial expression to see if you are interested in its ad, or if you are paying attention at all. What if it could even delineate your gender?   Is this technology creepy or captivating?

More and more companies are interested in being able to recognize human gestures and facial expressions.  Advertising firms are jumping on the band wagon and trying to find new ways to virtually interact with consumers.

But answer me this readers, would you want your children being entertained by interactive TV commercials?  Aren’t the good ole’ fashioned commercials hard enough to deal with?

According to Print Productions website, this technology is just around the corner.

Benjamin Palmer, CEO, of Barbarian Group, an interactive ad agency owned by Cheil Worldwide Inc. says, “If your eyes are the window into the soul, we’re paying attention to what you are paying attention to.”

They (Print Productions) report that gesture and facial recognition technologies have been around for years, especially in the security industries. In addition, they have recently infiltrated into the gaming world,  which is exemplified by the new game La Noire which we previously blogged about.  They suggest that prices have dropped dramatically, which encourages the advertising industry to jump on board the virtual bandwagon.

Jonathan Nelson, chief executive at Omnicom Digital states, “[the technology] actually recognizes faces.  If you raise your eyebrow, it can track that.  We’re exploring the applications and they are endless.”

2 responses to “The Window to our Souls”

  1. Keith D. says:

    I’m reminded of a quote by Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurrasic Park, “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

    It’s sort of a paragon of marketing not to stop to think whether they “should” do something– if they can do something, they will do something.

    I don’t like some of the “natural” directions a lot of these new technologies are taking, but I don’t blame the technologies themselves for those directions, because those are taken at the hands of the people using them. What I personally question is the people.

    And to answer the question, I do not want my children being entertained (or otherwise distracted with) interactive commercials.

    The one thing I take heart in is that the world is full of cheats, liars, and charlatans. Because of this, I know that the vast majority of advertisers will mis-apply and/or mis-use these technologies, and pay no attention whatsoever to the science behind them, and that this will result in a huge swath of woefully ineffective use of technology that’s way more trouble and expense than it’s worth. The people who will get it right are the crooks, the spammers, the politicians, the con-artists and so forth. Those are what I worry about the most. Those are the ones which present the clearest and most present danger to our lives and privacy IMHO, based on thousands of years of track records.

  2. Keith,
    Great comments. It is interesting that you make the distinction between the Science (behind the technology) and the use of Technology. They do differ in many aspects.

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