Ads Get Smart

Sometimes when you see a particularly compelling advertisement in a store window, you might stop and look at it. Now that advertisement is looking back at you too. Immersive Labs, a New York City startup launched in April, has created just such an advertising platform: an ad that analyzes the face of the viewer, assesses its gender and age, and then based on its evaluation of the interests of the viewer, readjusts the ad’s display and content.


If you live in NY, you might already have passed such an Immersive Lab ad without even realizing it. Sony is testing it out in the city and a digital kisok at Hudson News at JFK airport also uses Immersive Lab software.

The trend of location-based advertising enhanced by artificial intelligence (such as facial recognition software) is not new. Both Japan and Germany have been testing out such billboards.

Check out this demo of Immersive Lab's capabilities recorded last year:

Here are some possible reactions: 

1)   I really like this. I hate seeing ads that have no relevance to me. Personalized ads are a much better use of my time and attention.

2)   Having a machine that watches and records my face and expressions should not be legal without my consent. I should have been asked as a citizen if such machines can be installed in my city.

3)   I don’t like machines telling me what I want. I want my preferences to be challenged. I don’t want my world to always be confined to what the average consumer of my “type” (sex, age) prefers.

How do you feel about this?

Ayesha and Parag Khanna explore human-technology co-evolution in the Hybrid Age and its implications for society, business and politics at The Hybrid Reality Institute.

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