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Tesco to introduce face-scanning targeted adverts

If you do your weekly shop at your local Tesco, you could soon be having your face scanned and adverts displayed specifically to target you. It may not announce your name to the world with a projected face like Minority Report, but it could be equally embarrassing if you’re a regular buyer of certain over the counter medications.

While at this stage it won’t be targeted at individuals, or linked with your clubcard records, the technology that will be installed at Tesco petrol stations will take into account your gender and approximate age (does that mean I don’t need to bring ID to buy booze any more?) and will then advertise certain products for your demographic.

As the BBC reports, the tech comes straight from Alan Sugar’s firm Amscreen. He hopes to roll the technology out to as many supermarkets as possible, potentially bringing them into the main store as well as in its petrol station outbuildings.

minorityreport
“Buy a new pair of three fingered gloves today!”

A Tesco spokesperson was keen to assuage any fears people might have of the technology being used for more than just advertising targeting. They suggested that hair length could be used as an indicator of what gender a person was and also said:

“No data or images are collected or stored and the system does not use eyeball scanners or facial-recognition technology.”

While the supermarket drew comparisons between the technology and the way that Google and Facebook use certain aspects of your interaction with the sites to tailor the adverts they send your way, privacy proponents have suggested that scanning someone’s face is far more personal than their shopping habits and potentially represents a much bigger invasion of personal freedoms.

One campaigner suggested that consent should be given by customers before the technology was used on them.

KitGuru Says: Considering the push for pay-at-pump systems at Tesco petrol stations, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see these appearing out on the forecourt soon. Out of reach of nimble fingers of course.

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