What do you want? The ad will tell you

Kyodo News

Billboards are no longer just what you look at: They look back at you, analyze who you are and show what you love to see.

PanelDirector, the latest electronic ad display panel developed by NEC Corp., is equipped with a small camera that captures the image of an onlooker.

The face is compared to some 10,000 patterns stored in its database, and the panel assumes the gender and the age of the person. Then it shows suitable ad content, according to NEC officials.

During a recent demonstration at NEC headquarters in Minato Ward, Tokyo, a young woman stepped in front of the display panel. It responded by showing a mock ad featuring Italian pasta.

The results of analysis are stored in a database, but for privacy protection captured images are not, the officials said.

This analysis feature will be an efficient tool for businesses that want to pitch their products and services to certain age and gender groups, the officials said.

NEC says the intelligent display panel can be used in a network environment, enabling system administrators to manage multiple panels.

Aside from advertising panels, ubiquitous vending machines are becoming intelligent as well.

Last month, a soft-drink vending machine featuring a similar analyzing technology debuted at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo.

The machine automatically recommends some products based on the purchaser’s gender and age assumed by the machine. Weather conditions and the temperature are also taken into account.

“I was recommended a nutrition drink,” said a 50-year-old male office worker who stood in front of the machine. “Is this encouraging me to brave the summer heat and work hard?”