Sci-fi fans will be familiar with the interactive ads featured in the world of the film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, where upon entering a shopping mall, shoppers’ eyes were scanned to allow the shops to specifically target ads based on a particular shopper’s previous habits, e.g. "Good afternoon, Mr. Yakamoto. How did you like that three-pack of tank tops you bought last time you were in?".
Whilst we’re not quite there yet, it appears that Tesco is currently set to install screens across all of its UK petrol stations which are capable of scanning customers’ eyes at the till and then running targeted ads to the customer based on their age and gender. The ads would also vary according to the time and date.
The ‘OptimEyes’ screen has been developed by Lord Sugar’s company, Amscreen and will have an estimated audience of more than five million adults in any given week, across the five-year deal. The announcement has triggered some concerns from privacy campaigners, although Lord Sugar’s view is that the technology would not invade privacy, clarifying that the screen does not store images or recognise people, but simply establishes a shopper’s gender and categorises them into one of three age brackets. Nevertheless, the developed technology has very broad potential and we will certainly watch this space.