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.

Related Articles

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less

Giving octopuses ecstasy reveals surprising link to humans

A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.

Image: damn_unique via Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
  • Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
  • Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
Keep reading Show less