It’s not ready to launch yet, but NEC Electronics Corp. has designed a method for digital signs to track the age, gender and number of pedestrians that walk by them, providing advertisers with a more accurate reading of the potential audience.
And knowing the age and gender of those walking by is expected to help advertisers better know which ads to run at various times of day.
NEC sells flat-panel monitors that display ads, mainly found in stores, airports and other heavily trafficked areas. It also provides the software to manage and distribute advertising content to those screens – sold to retailers who want to put up kiosks or companies that run a network of public ad displays.
The company apparently embeds a camera into the monitor, allowing it to constantly film people walking by. NEC takes the footage and applies a program that can automatically scan each person’s face, calculating the individual’s rough age and gender within an approximate 10-year range. To do so, the program draws upon a database of thousands of faces as a reference, looking at distinguishing points of the face, the shape of the ears and eyes and hair color, to determine the age.
The database expands as more people walk past the camera, which will allow the program to make better judgment calls with time. The system is designed to be anonymous. The program tracks a person’s age and gender and throws out the footage, keeping only the macro data.
The technology originated in Japan.