Customers caught on cameras: Minority Report-style eyeball scanners to identify shoppers in UK
A man carries his shopping after visiting a Tesco store in south London (AFP Photo / Carl Court)
Face-scanners equipped with a hidden camera have been installed in 450 Tesco petrol stations in the UK to spy on supermarket shoppers and promptly target them with personalized ads.
Almost as in the Tom Cruise sci-fi blockbuster, Minority Report, where eyeball scanners were used to identify people, the OptimEyes screens are fitted with a camera that scans queuing customers. After the device detects their age and sex, it chooses which ads to play in 100-second loops.
For instance, energy drinks could be promoted to young customers in morning 10-second ad spots, or beauty items, should the cameras spot some ladies waiting to pay.
Chief executive of Amscreen, which developed the hi-tech technology, says secret cameras won't intrude into people's privacy, though.
"The OptimEyes does not store images or recognize people, but just works out gender and sorts customers into one of three age brackets," Simon Sugar told The Grocer.
"Yes, it's like something out of Minority Report but this could change the face of British retail and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible," he added.
It's hoped that OptimEyes could reach a weekly audience of five million adults.
"The ability to tailor content based on time and location means this can be extremely useful and timely for interacting with our customers," category director for Tesco petrol stations, Peter Cattell, told the industry magazine.
Although it yet remains to be seen how effective the ground-breaking technology proves to be, Amscreen already has plans to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible, and probably not just around the UK.