Face scanning cameras installed at 450 UK Tesco petrol stations

A division run by Alan Sugar has installed cameras at 450 Tesco petrol stations across the UK that scans customer faces and then delivers tailor made ads in a loop at those locations.

Amscreen, one of Lord Sugar's firms, installed the OptimEyes advertising system. The devices contain facial recognition technology able to detect the age and sex of customers, before beaming specially tailored advertisements at them. This means that if suddenly a number of women stop for petrol, for example, they could be shown advertisements for a women's fashion brand while filling up for petrol.

Simon Sugar, Alan's son and Amscreen CEO, said: "Yes, it’s like something out of Minority Report but this could change the face of British retail, our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible."

The Amscreen CEO also pointed out that the system does not store or recognise people, "The OptimEyes does not store images or recognise people but just works out gender and sorts customers into one of three age brackets"

The Big Brother-esq move was slammed by Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch who issued a statement which read: "The race is on for retailers to gather as much information about us as possible, as personalised as possible." further adding:

"The very intrusive nature of this technology lays bare the lengths to which some companies are willing to go and how supermarkets see people as there to be tracked."

Tescos defended the move by stating that the technology was "the perfect means for us to enhance the customer shopping experience".

The UK is already well known for the monitoring of its citizens using a vast CCTV network of cameras throughout the country, it would seem now that big business is also getting serious with the technology, even if the end result appears at first light to be very different.

Source: El Reg | Image: Wikipedia

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25 Comments

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I think my old Richard Nixon mask may have to be dusted off for visits to the filling station. I'll either get ads for discounts at the Watergate Hotel, or they will call the police because they think that I'm a crook.

Since it's ad supported does this mean petrol will be cheaper?? Or is it just another way to maximize profit at the expense of the customer

Petrol stations make around £0.07 per litre on petrol (rest goes on VAT, oil cost and duty). I doubt petrol stations even make a profit from fuel alone.

Leela: Didn't you have ads in the 21st century?"

Fry: Well sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio, and in magazines, and movies, and at ball games... and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts, and bananas and written on the sky. But not in dreams, no siree.

When I was a young lad most people were under the impression that technology would focus mainly on keeping us alive and travelling to the stars.... How wrong we were.
Sadly we will not be able to post pics of the giant asteroid aftermath that will one day wipe us all out because we will be extinct. However we will die while having a personally tailored lifestyle experience which will be some consolation..

It feels like most of the quotes should end with, "For now..."

"The OptimEyes does not store images or recognise people but just works out gender and sorts customers into one of three age brackets. For now..."

Except from experience, the moment you mention "for now" or any kind of slippery slope for technologies such as this you get labelled a paranoid conspiracy theorist and get told "the slippery slope is a fallacy" and other such nonsense.

Well it is all about what happens in the future. Right now this isn't so bad, indeed I welcome it if it means I get shown less ads I'd rather not see. But if this is v1, then who knows what will happen in the future once they refine this more. I can see a lot of people complaining when they decide down the line to store faces and then tailor ads so they don't get shown the same thing, etc, good idea in practice but I am sure many people would be upset by such a move.

I don't really see how this is different to any other profiling that's in use these days.

It doesn't store photos or use personal information - it just puts you into a male/female bracket and a rough age bracket. This is common practice - heck, go to the Google targeted advertising opt out thing - it knew rather accurately that I was 24 year old male.

Who would guarantee that? In the world we are living it they probably have the systems build together with the GCHQ for further Anti Terror investigations

-adrian- said,
Who would guarantee that? In the world we are living it they probably have the systems build together with the GCHQ for further Anti Terror investigations

So the dozen other cameras in the PFS (let alone those in the store itself) are fine; a single camera connected to an advertising screen however is the height of evil...

What about the people who look older than they are?
I don't want to go into Tescos and be bombarded with advertisements for funeral homes because it thinks i look 80+

Hello,

I dont have any problem with this as long as it doesnt store personal information. I mean if they are going to show ads, at least show ads revelent to me....

<cheerful voice-over> Piles? There's a cream for that now in store. Every Little Helps - but you can use more if you want...

I don't have a problem with it until they start forcing you to watch the adverts to fill up.

"Before we start pumping, watch this 30 second advert of Durex Condoms".

riahc3 said,
Hello,

Makes no sense. Please explain


The only targeted ads I get, are things I've already bought.

Which is completely pointless, I already bought it, thanks for informing me AGAIN about the price and details. Especially since I aint buying it again.