Wednesday, November 17, 2004


I Know What You're Thinking....

Ok, it's hard to tell how much is real and how much is hype, but I found this story interesting nonetheless:

There's a retail store surveillance camera that knows just how much you want that high-definition television set.

It can distinguish who lingers longingly before the blinking wall of TVs from who actually buys one. As shoppers dash from store to store in a mall, it can take note of who goes where, picking up subtle non-verbal cues like the spring in the step of the ones dangling new purchases, or the defeated shuffle of those who haven't found what they came for.

"Human Locator," a new software-based video surveillance system by the Montreal ad agency Freeset Interactive Entertainment, transforms the lowly digital video recorder into a sophisticated tool for observing human behaviour.

Its brain is a set of mathematical algorithms that isolates human forms from whatever else is captured on camera, and then tracks the person.

It then converts data about their location and movements, behaviour, speed and direction and a host of other variables into a continually updated statistical analysis.

The technology will be able to give store owners insights into the buying habits of customers leagues beyond what they get today by analysing sales receipts, says its creator, Freeset president Bastien Beauchamp.
Human Locator made its commercial debut last week at the Bell Challenge tennis tournament in Montreal, not as a store surveillance tool but in another intriguing incarnation: Embedded within a BCE Inc.-sponsored promotional video game, it let gamers play tennis against their own image projected onscreen as an "opponent." Their real movements were analysed and when they took a shot, the onscreen doppelganger lobbed or volleyed in return.

In other words, the "smart camera" system doesn't just passively collect statistics, it's able to trip electronic devices embedded in just about anything -- from video games, to advertising billboards, furniture, appliances and even water fountains -- using data supplied by visual images to make those devices "smarter" too.
I predict the next gen will be embedded in ordinary looking eyeglasses, providing a heads-up display to the wearer indicating whether the person you're talking to is telling the truth, planning a crime, and/or wants to sleep with you. Sales will be robust.