Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Monday, December 31, 2007

Big Commercial Brother

One of the more striking aspects of Spielberg's 2002 film, "Minority Report" was the interactive and invasive element that advertiser's entailed as they enjoyed a sort of Orwellian freedom to scan eyeballs, confer databases and present an inviting "pitch" for any given products as the hapless consumer strode by. Fiction, you say? For now, perhaps, though technology marches on and science fiction and fact maintain a rather tenuous division as this report via Blogmate Munz suggests:

Internet advertisers have pioneered the “pay-per-click” advertising model, but now a similar concept is ready to make the jump into the real world, with billboards that watch you watch them. In 2007, Canadian startup Xuuk introduced eye-tracking technology that uses infrared sensors to look for the red-eye phenomenon familiar from family snapshots. The device looks like a small webcam and can detect a passing glance from over 30 feet away. This year, the company will roll out its Eyeanalytics software, letting advertisers monitor how many people are looking at each of their ads, and for how long.

The implications for the ad world are clear: “You could sell ads by the eyeball,” says Xuuk’s CEO, Roel Vertegaal. That model has paid off for companies like Google in the online world—and they’re watching Xuuk closely. Vertegaal has already traveled to Mountain View, Calif., to present his technology at Google headquarters, though he’s tight-lipped about any future plans with the Internet search giant.

The concepts of "free market" and "privacy" both hold full heads of steam, racing toward an ideological and sociological collision. The fantasy of Spielberg merges with a semblance of reality and we're left wondering if and where to draw the line between the free market and personal privacy as technology delivers advertising might from the willing to the, at best, unaware, at worse unwittingly complicit.


G said...

The post on mobile phone direction finding to visualize swarms of persons is insane as well.