Minority Report may have tickled us with its floating multitouch displays, but it also warned us of what might happen when adverts start recognizing us. Unfortunately, it seems NEC didn't heed Tom Cruise, and has developed a new individual-recognizing system for their PanelDirector advertising system. The prototype can identify the age and gender of the people currently looking at the screens, and serve up contextually-suitable adverts.
In a demonstration at NEC headquarters, the PanelDirector system spotted a young woman and decided she'd be interested in seeing an advert for pasta. It uses a database of around 10,000 patterns against which it compares viewers to figure out the demographic, with the system gradually improving its accuracy over time but, for privacy reasons, not actually saving the images it takes.
NEC expect the new system to be of interest to advertisers looking to target their content to specific groups, though it's unclear what happens in crowded environments where multiple viewers are looking at the same display. Perhaps they could factor in the likelihood of each demographic actually opening their wallet or purse, and prioritise accordingly.