Last week’s DSE 2009 show gave me a chance to get a quick look at 3 companies that offer real-time, automated audience measurement solutions for the digital-out-of-home industry, Quividi, Cognovision and Tru-Media. Apparently though I was more of a man at the Tru-Media and Cognovision booths than via Quividi, who told us that “they don’t do Asians” after successfully demonstrating to us some (rather rude) gender re-assignment.
Each of these software solutions does the same thing (just, in slightly different ways).
Each of them use on-site cameras to process images, then analyze data (in real-time) and record the information in the form of; number of viewers, how much time each viewer was facing the screen and viewer demographics (sex/age). But before you start waving the privacy issue flag – rest easy, none of these systems store images – just the numerical data.
That explanation makes all this sound rudimentary – but facial recognition analysis isn’t easy, in fact it’s takes a whole heck of a lot of effort to get it to work accurately. To better appreciate the sophistication of real-time image processing, here’s a 5 second primer on how some facial biometrics software works.
For each face, the software analyzes at least 80 facial “landmarks” of a viewer; to name a few – the distance between the eyes, width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, shape of the cheekbones, length of the jaw line… blah, blah, blah – you get the picture.
In any case, the analysis happens every millisecond and concurrently for every person that registers in the camera’s field of view. The software then executes a comparison of data and makes an approximation of the viewers sex and age. – in most cases, the typical accuracy rate of these systems is around 90% – especially when it comes to discerning the sex of the viewer.
The biggest challenge that all these vendors face is the issue of ‘race’ – the fact that each nationality has unique facial characteristics.
So when faced with a multiple ethnic crowd of viewers, how can they discern sex?
Looking from left to right – you’ll see me, then Adrian (pointing and laughing at me!) and an unidentified female, this beautiful French lady was the wife of Quividi’s Chief Scientific Officer, Paolo Prandoni, Ed who was working the booth.
Note the colored indicators (circles) around our faces. Red / Pink = female, Blue = male.
Needless to say we tried a few times to recalibrate the accuracy of the Quividi software BUT alas my gender reassignment was permanent!!
The software was convinced that I was a female (thus our sex change comments). When we asked the female booth attendant why this was happening, she told us “we don’t do Asians” – perhaps not a good idea to employ your wife on the stand then?, Ed
Last time I checked (and I do it often) I am a male!