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In Japan, a Billboard That Watches You

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the don't-look-now dept.

Privacy 133

An anonymous reader writes "At a Tokyo railway station above a flat-panel display hawking DVDs and books sits a small camera hooked up to some image processing software. When trials begin in January the camera will scan travelers to see how many of them are taking note of the panel, in part of a technology test being run by NTT Communications. It doesn't seek to identify individuals, but it will attempt to figure out how many of the people standing in front of an advertisement are actually looking at it. A second camera, which wasn't fitted at the station but will be when tests begin next month, will take care of estimating how many people are in front of the ad, whether they are looking at it or not."

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133 comments

In Soviet... Japan... (5, Funny)

exley (221867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26129945)

Wait, what?

Re:In Soviet... Japan... (1)

holywarrior21c (933929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130237)

In South Korea, Billboards look at only old people. But in Soviet Korea, billboard is a 55000 young men watched by a single old guy.

Re:In Soviet... Japan... (1)

monkeybutter (912920) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131221)

Did anyone else read this and think it would be awesome to have billboards displaying Stephen Hawking's works?

In Japan, Billboard watches you! (2)

binary.bang (1372881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26129957)

Grammar is overrated.

Re:In Japan, Billboard watches you! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26129999)

In old Japanese manuals, it certainly is. Although I think in this case it is more a reference to ISR-Jokes.

It's the same in North Korea (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130007)

Hence the expression "In Soviet Korea, billboard watches YOU!"

Thanks, I'll be here all week. Try the dog.

Have any of you ever BEEN there? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26130009)

I have, many times, and I can honestly say that the only thing I'm looking at are the women. Ninjas sitting on the camera mounting, firing those little star things and nunchuks at me? I wouldn't even notice.

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130963)

Flippant though you may be, I can only see two outcomes for this -

1. Advertisers realise exactly how much they have trained people to ignore everything around them, no matter how bright or annoying.

2. Advertisements quickly become even more completely based around naked female flesh, because that's the only way they get any attention at all.

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (4, Interesting)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131317)

Excellent points!

I've been saying this for a long time... we've become so inundated with ads that we just completely ignore them now.

Even on television... many (if not most) people recorded their shows on VCR simply to avoid the commercials... same reason I use Tivo now. Sure, as our busy schedules got even busier, time shifting became more desirable; but even if a show is on while I'm watching TV, I will often pause or start recording it to come back later just to avoid watching the commercials.

I suppose it's like any other good or service... the industry has devalued their product (ads) by over saturating the market.

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26132303)

I dislike TV but I watch occasionally especially when in-laws are at our place. What I observed is that most commercials are crap. Some of them however are very well made. Comparing this to the shows and movies that they interrupt I see a major difference in quality for adverts advantage.
It seems that not only the creative people feel better making the advertisements but the way accountants devastate their works is different too - an add thanks to its short form is either completely destroyed or it works. Shows and movies on the other hand may become very annoying when one starts noticing marketing department at work. Common practice of product placing makes commercials strangely honest. Now considering all this you can imagine that I actually skip the shows and watch the commercials instead. You can save time on it too as the pauses become longer.

From this perspective the only aspect that is annoying here is that such devices have enormous potential for abuse by unscrupulous authorities and corporate sharks - or is there anything that can stop them using such systems to supervise us all Orwell style (as there were a need for it).

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (1)

Zebano (626335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26132799)

What is this VCR you speak of? I use DVR nowadays. I tell it that I like Fringe, Sanctuary and Heroes and it records every instance of those shows it can. I don't have to swap out tapes or manually program the VCR in between each show. If you want to be a real geek, you can do this with your computer rather than purchasing something that JFW.

DVRs (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 5 years ago | (#26133759)

Yeah, most of the time I watch TV (which is rare, with all I do on the 'Net), it's stuff that's DVR'ed

I often find myself pausing the show for the express purpose of having lead time to skip commercials, even if I'm *able* to sit down and watch the show right then and there.

DVRs are also useful for sporting events: skip through the dead time inbetween plays; the game goes faster and you still get to see the general course of events.
(American football generally has 30 sec. between plays, so the commercial-skipping button is also quite useful here)

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (2, Funny)

The13thSin (1092867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131479)

"...Advertisements quickly become even more completely based around naked female flesh..." And how is that a bad thing again?

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (1)

besalope (1186101) | more than 5 years ago | (#26132765)

"...Advertisements quickly become even more completely based around naked female flesh..." And how is that a bad thing again?

They might not be model material. *shudder*

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 5 years ago | (#26133697)

Except they want you to like their product, not run in terror every time you hear its name.

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26131657)

I hope your right about the naked female flesh part....

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (2)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131853)

When I was outside Omiya station recently, they seemed to be showing 10 second snippets of live baseball between the ads to entice people to watch.

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (1)

styryx (952942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26132103)

The late prophet Bill Hicks was right again:

Here is the ultimate television commercial, and we might see it one day yet: Here's the woman's face, beautiful. Camera pulls back, naked breast. Camera pulls back, she's totally naked. Legs apart. Two fingers right 'here'. And it just says: Drink Coke.

Re:Have any of you ever BEEN there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26133651)

Two outcomes? Those sound like 2 steps in a single possible course of action.

Slippery slope (4, Interesting)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130013)

Some people will say "slippery slope", and others will declare that the phrase is a fallacy. As a shortcut description of the probably course of events, "slippery slope" is just fine. In this case:

1: Billboards watch people.
2: These billboards are more popular and are put into more common use.
3: Information from a billboard cam is subpoenaed.
4: Some bright young chap in politics notices that (a) There are cameras everywhere that could be used to observe the populace, (b) The information from these cameras isn't in use, and (c) He is up for re-election soon and needs some dirt on his opponent.
5: This politician will make a bill to monitor the billboards. Anyone in opposition will be "soft on crime", "unwilling to monitor dangerous criminals", and "must be hiding something."
6: Sooner or later, Minority Report.

Re:Slippery slope (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130417)

the problem with slippery slope is it's easy to sound right when you just make shit up. that's all slippery slope arguments are, just a made up chain of events without justification or evidence. hence it's got no credibility.

Re:Slippery slope (3, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131067)

These who don't know History are sentenced to repeating it.

The credibility is in past scenarios. Copyright. PATRIOT. Communist revolution.

Slippery Slope scenarios tend to be right.

Re:Slippery slope (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131101)

It isn't that slippery slopes tend to be right it is that you have to plan on the people abusing your system.

Building a device and put a stick of dynamite into it. see what happens, build a web site, even a personal one, and watch how often it gets attacked. If your going to plan for the future you need to think ahead. People abuse the things they are given and don't have responsibility of. So if you give some one unlimited powers with no oversight it will be abused no matter the intentions.

Re:Slippery slope (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131675)

They hooked up cameras to force copyright issues?
They used video footage to start the communist revolution?
And while PATRIOT does show that nationalism can be used to put through bills to monitor people, I don't see it as directly relevant to the putting up of a private cameras, I do however think you just prooved GPs point

just a made up chain of events without justification or evidence. hence it's got no credibility.

Re:Slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26133781)

Holy shit can you be a little more narrow minded? Those instances quoted were examples of slippery slopes being correct, and how some people were easily able to see the damned thing coming. Copyright was suppose to be about 14 years. It included clauses that allowed it to be extended, but also clauses that would FORBID it to be reduced. It was abused to the point where it's now effectively close to 100-150 years given that the durations are infinite until the copyright holder dies (corporate copyright not included) at which point you have to wait another 50+ years based on the country you're in. (The US is now at 95 years after the death of the artist isn't it? Or still 75?)

The communist revolution started with the people rising up and taking power and giving total control to that new government. That government then abused it's powers repeatedly as it drifted farther and farther away from it's original goal to serve the people fairly and equally.

And PATRIOT gave insane powers from the get go with no supervision or accountability, and you've seen how faithfully THAT was carried out.

Camming the population for business purposes is just another example of a slope waiting to slip. It CAN be abused very easily, and based on the nature of the human being and history, it WILL be abused if it becomes more commonplace.

Re:Slippery slope (1)

VocationalZero (1306233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130655)

I think you may be giving too much credit too politicians. The most likely scenario is one in which they shoot themselves in the foot by unknowingly being caught doing something illegal by one of these things, and then have to face the press and their own LEA. The information from these cameras would also be a double-edged sword; just as they could use the information to target individuals they themselves can wind up on the target list.

I don't really understand how these are a big issue though, as there are plenty of street cameras, traffic cameras, and store cameras in most major cities that billboard cameras would just be a tiny drop in the bucket when it comes to public surveillance.

So that's it then? (2, Insightful)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26132267)

"I don't understand how these are a big issue though, as there are plenty of street cameras, traffic cameras, and store cameras in most major cities."

.

So once the first person put up the first camera, he thus granted license for 24x7 surveillance of the entire populace? Why should anyone have any problem with it, others are doing it!

I guess I'll go out and murder my grandmother. Hey, I don't understand why this is a big issue as there are plenty of other murders in most major cities.

If someone is unethical, pointing out that other people are also unethical should NOT be a justification.

Re:Slippery slope (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130663)

2b. It is legal to put cameras everywhere
3b. Journalists do that a lot
4b. Journalists realize that they have the right to take pictures in public places and that a lot of politicians spend time in public places in various companies
5b. Any politician that is out of the cameras eyes must be hiding something or having a secret meeting, or is afraid of being under public scrutiny
6b. Public cameras get banned or at least finally open a true debate on these things.

I have no problem about putting cameras in public spaces, as long as :
- Anyone can consult the video archives
- It is legal to wear a mask or concealing clothes in public places (think burkha)
- Roads, transit systems allow anonymous movements or some lanes are not considered "public" (hence it is illegal to watch the ID of the cars going there)

Civil Rights (1)

EgoWumpus (638704) | more than 5 years ago | (#26132429)

- Roads, transit systems allow anonymous movements or some lanes are not considered "public" (hence it is illegal to watch the ID of the cars going there)

Why just roads? Can't I walk down the street without risk of being monitored and tracked? Actually, I personally don't care - but someone might, and that brings up the real issue at hand.

As technology develops, the ability to use that technology to the detriment of the individual increases. We need laws that protect us against unfair government use - that keep the government subjugated to the people, not the people subjugated to the government.

In this case, I think that a subpeona ought to be required to get tracking information on a person: the issue of wearing anonymizing clothing should be unrelated. A private citizen or other legal entity (such as a company) should have to sue for similar information.

Video archives should not be freely consultable. The issue is that someone will have to maintain them, and companies should be given no additional incentive to do so, because that gives them incentive to observe. The government should not maintain them, because the government is not good about keeping information from itself. Companies and private individuals should be allowed to maintain what archives they deem appropriate, but at their own expense. What they should be required to keep is an archive of creation and deletion - so that it is transparent if there is an irregularity in the pattern.

Finally, I think we all have to get used to the fact that we're going to be watched going to GeekCon99, or the porn store, or to a pub, or to a church. We're going to have to get over that as a social stigma, because guess what? Everyone does it, making it the truth. Rather than trying to suppress technology that records observations, or makes hiding things harder, we should simply try to make sure our rights are well protected. I have the right to go to any of those places.

That brings us around to the clothing issue, and why it's separate: if a law is passed that you cannot wear a mask so that cameras stand a better chance of telling the government whats what - well, that's a breach of my civil rights. I'm being forced to report unfairly on myself to the government. The camera isn't even at question there - it's like presently having to state your name to every cop that you see. The camera simply becomes the mechanism by which you report. The government should only be able to require you to do things that prevent you from infringing on others' freedoms, never anything that simply makes it harder for you to be a anonymous. Because those inevitably are poorly targetted and don't work well.

Re:Slippery slope (2, Insightful)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130695)

Every time I've seen your sig "I am the cheese", I almost want to disregard everything else you've said. I understand that child porn is a legislation gateway for something-nefarious(tm), BUT currently viewing child porn IS NOT illegal. In fact, if you ever serve on the jury for a case about child porn PRODUCER, you may have to view some as evidence. What is illegal is 1) paying for it 2) storing or distributing it 3) creating it. In each of these cases, your helping create supply and/or demand, which does in fact hurt children. Currently, accidentally downloading child porn or viewing is unlikely to attract FBI attention, unless you do it a lot (and how can that be accidental?) I mean, if the FBI acted on that, they'd be arresting huge swaths of 4chan members at a time, since that stuff is (somewhat) frequently posted on message threads. If you do accidentally download it, you are probably tech savvy enough, being a Slashdot poster, to clean out your temporary files.

When it comes right down to it, seeing your signature makes me wonder if you are in fact, a pedophile. If you are, and you've never committed a crime, great! but that's your business. However, it still hurts your reputation to have that out in the open and it muddies the real issues.

going off topic (2, Funny)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131215)

Every time I've seen your sig "I am the cheese", I almost want to disregard everything else you've said.

That says something about you...

I understand that child porn is a legislation gateway for something-nefarious(tm), BUT currently viewing child porn IS NOT illegal. In fact, if you ever serve on the jury for a case about child porn PRODUCER, you may have to view some as evidence. What is illegal is 1) paying for it 2) storing or distributing it 3) creating it.

What I mean to say, but don't because it makes an awkward sentence is: Paying for, storing, distributing, and filming child porn: Thought crime.

In each of these cases, your helping create supply and/or demand

I dispute this. Only paying for it creates demand.

which does in fact hurt children.

I dispute that too. The only action of those specified that hurts a child is actual abuse, and only that and directly commissioning such should be a crime.

Currently, accidentally downloading child porn or viewing is unlikely to attract FBI attention, unless you do it a lot (and how can that be accidental?) I mean, if the FBI acted on that, they'd be arresting huge swaths of 4chan members at a time, since that stuff is (somewhat) frequently posted on message threads. If you do accidentally download it, you are probably tech savvy enough, being a Slashdot poster, to clean out your temporary files.

When it comes right down to it, seeing your signature makes me wonder if you are in fact, a pedophile. If you are, and you've never committed a crime, great! but that's your business. However, it still hurts your reputation to have that out in the open and it muddies the real issues.


I think it is a real issue. I have a serious problem with other people's information flow being stopped by any entity for any reason. If people don't like this point of view then I have at least made them think. If my reputation takes a hit because people are prejudiced against pedophiles, so be it. I sincerely appreciate your mostly unbiased approach to this controversial subject.

Re:going off topic (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131399)

Ok, I got some undeserved karma recently (by being modded insightful for a joke) so I can afford to burn some by being off-topic.

What I mean to say, but don't because it makes an awkward sentence is: Paying for, storing, distributing, and filming child porn: Thought crime.

Except that none of those are thoughts, they're physical actions.

In each of these cases, your helping create supply and/or demand I dispute this. Only paying for it creates demand.

Actively seeking it out creates demand, too, because that provides a possible advertising revenue stream. I don't think that's illegal yet, though -- as long as you fail.

which does in fact hurt children. I dispute that too. The only action of those specified that hurts a child is actual abuse, and only that and directly commissioning such should be a crime.

There is the little matter of effectiveness. Making only the abuse and direct commissioning the offences just means that the abuse will take place in places without such legistaltion or with ineffective enforcement, which I'd guess is pretty much how things are anyway because those things are already offences in most civilised countries. If one wants to limit child abuse, the most effective means is likely to be to tackle all parts of the abuse chain that fall within your administration.

I think it is a real issue. I have a serious problem with other people's information flow being stopped by any entity for any reason.

Child porn is certainly data, but is it information?

Re:Slippery slope (2, Insightful)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130811)

Some people will say "slippery slope", and others will declare that the phrase is a fallacy. As a shortcut description of the probably course of events, "slippery slope" is just fine. In this case: 1: Billboards watch people. 2: These billboards are more popular and are put into more common use. 3: Information from a billboard cam is subpoenaed. 4: Some bright young chap in politics notices that (a) There are cameras everywhere that could be used to observe the populace, (b) The information from these cameras isn't in use, and (c) He is up for re-election soon and needs some dirt on his opponent. 5: This politician will make a bill to monitor the billboards. Anyone in opposition will be "soft on crime", "unwilling to monitor dangerous criminals", and "must be hiding something." 6: Sooner or later, Minority Report.

You're wrong on #6: it's 1984. Minority Report used people with ESP powers, 1984 used 'TV screens' to monitor the populace.

Re:Slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26131319)

As you may recall from the Minority Report movie (I seem to remember it as a part of the story as well), the advertisements would recognize people and tailor their pitch accordingly, calling out their names as they passed by. I believe it was achieved via retinal scan. In any case, an implementation like that would make the eventual tracking of a populace childishly easy.

Re:Slippery slope (3, Informative)

RCourtney (973307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26133317)

Unfortunately, in this regard you are wrong too. Minority report used the telepathic trio to see/prevent murders. It used retinal scanners to actually track the day-to-day activities of the citizens' movements/actions. Thus the reasons he had his eyes replaced.

Re:Slippery slope (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130933)

1) People call things slippery slope
2) They must be hiding something
3) Minority report

Re:Slippery slope (1)

phillous (1160303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130979)

1) People call things slippery slope
2) They must be hiding something
3) ... ?
4) Minority report
5) PROFIT!!

Fixed that for ya

Re:Slippery slope (2, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130975)

"It doesn't seek to identify individuals ..."

Yet.

Re:Slippery slope (1)

phillous (1160303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131003)

ok, an actual /. article about technology and what do the /. masses scream about?

oh noes! its teh guvorment spyin on us!!!

Is there a sale on tinfoil that I'm unaware of?

Re:Slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26131059)

3: Information from a billboard cam is subpoenaed.

That's assuming the billboard cameras actualy keep recordings of what they see, and for the love of me I can't imagine why they'd do that. If the image-processing software just counts anonymous faces and increments a counter, you've got no slippery slope.

Re:Slippery slope (1)

Candid88 (1292486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131087)

Of course!

Such billboards are in that movie Minority Report!

So if the billboards from that movie come true, everything else from it must also come true! ...regardless of how many laws of physics the movie broke.

Please keep in mind that movies aren't prophecies spat out by burning bushes, they are just entertaining works of fiction.

Headline fails it (0)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130031)

Seriously. If kdawson wanted to do the Soviet Russia thing, it should have gone "In Japan, billboard watches YOU!" Or it could have been straight up informative like "Billboards monitors eyeball hits" or something. WTF?

Slow news day (4, Interesting)

Lucas.Langa (922843) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130083)

The same technology is used even in Poland, which is still seen by the western world as a "developing country". By the way, see this [trumedia.co.il].

Re:Slow news day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26130199)

Yes, but don't put it past the nerds to try and exoticize Japan as much as possible.

Re:Slow news day (1)

infernalman7 (1144421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130881)

Same in Thailand. In a shopping mall called "Siam Paragon", lots of these cams are installed right above the plasma screens. Some of which you can even interact with what's being on the screen.

Re:Slow news day (1)

Candid88 (1292486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131119)

Indeed, video posters using infa-red to detect when someone's nearby have been around for ages.

The difference here is simply that someone used the "camera" word when describing this system and that's got the tinfoil-hat crowd jumping up and down.

Re:Slow news day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26133495)

So Poland is not a "developing country"? I think your nationalism is blinding you. Poland is literally a few hobits away from being a real life middle earth.

Thats just not right! (2, Funny)

Shivinski (1053538) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130125)

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!
How dare you Japan! How very DARE you take over the classic 'soviet russia' joke! That is just NOT funny!

I am very, VERY disappointed in you Japan. And I hope you are ashamed of yourself!

Which station in Tokyo? (3, Interesting)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130143)

I RTFA (sorry!) and it doesn't say. As I live there I'd be interested in taking a look.

(I know I won't be tracked or even just mess up their trial statistics, what with me being a foreigner and all that: "We gathered together many faces and came up with an average Japanese face, and by using pattern matching the system recognizes faces from the image.")

Re:Which station in Tokyo? (1)

Ceryx (1416491) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130305)

I know that the giant Ad TV at the Takadanobaba Waseda exit has a camera, as it occasionally shows the rotary area itself on the screen. Seems like a good enough place to do something of the like seeing as there are always tons of people there. However, I don't recall the ads being of the media nature.

Re:Which station in Tokyo? (5, Informative)

kumanopuusan (698669) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130383)

I was wondering, too, so I looked up the original report [ntt.co.jp] on NTT's website [ntt.co.jp].

Three cameras are installed on the Keihin Express line at Shinagawa, Yokohama and Haneda Airport stations. There's also one in the Marunouchi Building by Tokyo station and one at their lab in Yokosuka. They'll be testing until the end of March. It seems like the image processing is only being performed at Marunouchi building and Haneda.

I go through Tokyo station on the way home, so I'll post later if I can find the thing.

Re:Which station in Tokyo? (5, Informative)

kumanopuusan (698669) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130437)

I looked at the press release a bit closer and you can see that it's measuring two things: the number of people in the area [ntt.co.jp] and the number of people facing the advertisement [ntt.co.jp]. Here's a picture of the unit [ntt.co.jp].

Re:Which station in Tokyo? (2)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130649)

There's one of those units at Keikyu Shinagawa at the end of platform 3 just before the stairs going down. I think that's the only one at Shinagawa.

I know I've glanced at it a few times but it strikes me as being a bit too far away from the main stream of people going past to convey much useful information.

Re:Which station in Tokyo? (1)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130589)

Oooh, it's my lucky day! I change at Keikyu Shinagawa. I'll go and wave it it when I go past in a bit.

Thanks for the info!

Re:Which station in Tokyo? (2)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26132027)

You should get a bunch of national friends together, then, and work to mess it up. Have them walk by constantly, staring at the board. Have them skew the numbers so harshly in the positive direction that the ad companies go bankrupt whilst clamoring to put up ads in the "valuable space".

Crap like this just reminds me of that fallacy-based advert: "You just proved bench advertisement works". No, you just proved that anyone who reads a bench ad reads a bench ad. I've never bought bench advertisements, so it obviously doesn't work.

Also: If I hack the board and throw up the Bill Hicks video, and they track how many people watch that, what do you think the outcome would be?

Seems extreme to me (4, Insightful)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130159)

Let me know when the billboard ads for the personal/cleaning/pleasure toy robots are put up in the mall and they jump out at you while you are walking, yelling, "Buy me!" then that will be pretty damn impressive.

Seriously though, a bit sneaky, but fascinating that they want a headcount of who walks by these marketing ads. I wonder if they realize how numb the public is to this by now? I don't know if there have been studies, but it seems to me, the older you get, the less you want, I could be wrong, I am just speaking from personal experience.

Re:Seems extreme to me (2, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130839)

People are numb but they still take it, I only turn my head if it grabs my attention and that's what they want to know - does the poster grab people's attention. Other than one particulary large one near me that advertises a brothel, the last time I recall a billboard grabing my attention was when I first saw the mouse with an ear on it's back.

"but it seems to me, the older you get, the less you want, I could be wrong, I am just speaking from personal experience."

OT - Ditto. OTOH we old farts have had time to accumulate our favorite "stuff", replacing the stuff that wears out is not as big a deal, (ie: there is a vast difference between buying your first good car and trading it in later on your second). Also old farts are usually better off financialy (at least until they retire and blow it all on poker machines and a world cruise on the QE11), eg: my "screw this I quit" fund is not enough to retire on but it would keep me afloat for a few years, 20yrs ago it wouldn't have paid the rent. 30yrs ago I figured I could live the rest of my life using the interest on a $100K term deposit as a wage, but that was a couple of years before the breeding instinct took over and forced me to seek out "stuff" to feather the nest - I had no idea how much "stuff" a 2 foot long human "needs".

Now that my youngest is carrying my first grandchild I watch her & hubby collecting all this baby "stuff" with mild amusement, but what I really want is for the kid to be at the toddler stage so that I can feed them chocolate and tell them nice stories about their parents...And maybe a few stories about their gradma who only visits at xmas....[fade to future converstaion]....grandma lives a long way away in a place called "alcohol", you might have overheard someone call her an "alcoholic"....well...that's like how you're an Aussie because you live in Australia....So mum, dad, you and me are all Aussie's but grandma is different. Grandma is an....[pause for response]...excellent....have another chocky...

Re:Seems extreme to me (1)

Zebano (626335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26133231)

2 things

Re: wanting Stuff
1. I don't want less, but I want fewer material goods. Services such as chess/tennis tournaments or related services I still pay for and the material goods are made up for by Grandma and Mom buying my kids tons of toys (more than we can clean up at night).

Re: billboards
2. There is a billboard on I380 that alternates advertising with a daily joke. I pay attention to that one every time I drive past. I think mixing your ad in with desired content is a great way to get people to pay attention.

Quick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26130179)

Someone tag this "TheGreatGatsby"

Does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26130215)

that the billboard will be able to dodge incoming shoes?

Sounds like a.... (1)

117 (1013655) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130251)

telescreen [wikipedia.org], to me....

Re:Sounds like a.... (1)

Yogiz (1123127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130341)

Sounds like a telescreen [wikipedia.org], to me....

Exactly what came to mind to me as well.

How far is the technology anyway? Can we expect cheap electronic surveillance in every home in countries such as China in what, 5 years? 10? How long until it moves on to U.K. and USA? To rest of the world?

Keeping an eye on the population gives the government quite a lot of power. And there are always innocuous-appearing reasons for doing things like that.

Nah, I'm just being paranoid. It's just an experiment to see how big per cent of people check ads...

...OR IS IT?

Google (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26130253)

After checking whoever looks at ad, they compare the picture to facebook, find the victim, check google records for more information and then target the ads directly at the user.

This could make for an awesome prank (4, Interesting)

Logic and Reason (952833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130291)

Whenever there's only one person looking at the billboard, have its contents change subtly. For example, a character on the billboard could briefly glance at the viewer. Do it, Japan!

Re:This could make for an awesome prank (1)

PirateBlis (1208936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130989)

Or they could have it change to some strange/odd image that'll freak the viewer out. They'll turn to the nearest person to be like "OMG! DO YOU SEE THAT!" and the sign will have quickly changed back to the previous ad, leaving the other train goers to think that one person is crazy.

Old News For The Sector (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26130293)

This is old news in the DOOH sector (digital out of home). Audience measurement is key in establishing value for potential clients. Simply knowing the footfall for a venue is useless if no one is actually looking at the screens.

As someone above mentioned, TruMedia are one of the forefathers of the technology, but there are many out there. They all maintain that no video is stored. It simply analysis age (split into 3 groups) and gender. Some broadcast software (ie Scala) can take prompts from the camera package and change the media based on the viewer.

Digital 6-sheets are now being built with the cameras built in, so it's not quite so obtrusive.

Re:Old News For The Sector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26131201)

Ack on that. Gender, age, race, routes through a store, where people stop in a store and for how long... all these things are commonly watched using cameras in retail stores - and it most certainly isn't just (or even primarily) in Japan.

Tin foil caps also create an easily tracked and recognized visual artifact, so you pretty much just have to deal with it.

Not The Point? (1)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130339)

I thought the point of ads was that you didn't look at them. Subliminal messages come across best when you don't notice them...

Scary! (1)

dvh.tosomja (1235032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130373)

Attach there some evolution algorithm which will slowly improve 'peoples attention time' by analyzing their behavior and after few days, you have ad everybody must watch. Imagine that you walk across the street an perfect ad get your attention and you can avoid it. That's scary.

It might work in Japan (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26130859)

In a British station you would need a way of knowing whether the passengers were looking at the advert, reading the grafitti, or looking through the hundreds of "high class escort agency" adds that had been stuck on.

In Other News.... (1)

PirateBlis (1208936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131015)

Local pranksters have stolen a similar billboard that was set up for similar testing inside a mall and conveniently placed it directly across from the railway station's new "spy board", resulting in what is now being dubbed "the world's longest staring competition".

USA too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26131159)

In the USA there are billboards that receive the LO local oscillator leakage transmitted by your cars radio and adjust the advertisement to target your listening .
  This has potential nefaruious uses :
For example , a radio station transmits some anti-libal stuff, like opposition to Interracial or queer marriages or being against illegal immigrants . The liberal lawmakers can count how many bad people are in a state or areas .
Of course if they wanted , they can add electronics to read your licnse plate too,Do they do this now ? who knows . As far as I know they only do targeted advertising.
    Background
Every radio receiver is also transmitter.
  Some energy in transmitted out of its antenna.
  Anyone who has ever been fined or arrested in a state where radar detectors (which are receivers) are outlawed might victims of this technology .
My company has patented and is working on radio receivers for police that detect cellphones too,thus alerting the officer to them when very close . In hopes of generating revenue for their jurisdictions where use is banned or hands free devices are required, the fines can be stiff.

in France too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26131281)

They're currently testing the same kind of billboards in France, in the subway station of the Champs Elysee.

like those, they check who & what they watch to see effiency of the ads. But the camera is also here to record if someone breaks the screen.

Interesting, but not big news technically speaking (1)

Morbid Curiosity (156888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131839)

From the article at least, it doesn't look like they're doing anything particularly special, here. Segmenting people from the background and running something like eigenface classification or template matching on the foreground... anyone who's halfway competent with some of the major computer vision libraries out there could probably write something like this without really straining. Especially if it's in a partially-controlled environment with good lighting.

if i ever came to power (2)

Beer-o-clock (1309041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26131875)

i'd ban Billboards. wastes of space. used for covering unmaintained eye sore government property, or just an eye sore in themselves.

i don't think i can remember any advertising campaign, or anything good that was on a bill board.

boo hiss etc.

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