Welcome to Minority Report: Researchers at Lancaster University in England have created a new type of digital billboard capable of tracking your eye movements.
The system, called Sideways, uses a small camera to locate faces, identify eyes, and then track their movement. The content displayed on the screen can change as your eyes move, allowing you to scroll through menus simply by looking at them.
Of course, more interesting to retailers is the possibility of using the tracking tech to perfect the art of the advertisement. Say you were in the supermarket checkout aisle, and a candy bar catches your eye. The monitor might display an ad for a different type of candy, or possibly highlight a discount. Shift your gaze to a tabloid, and you might get a few tidbits of hot gossip. And while the advertisement is tracking your eyes, it’s capable of tracking the eyes of 13 other people as well.
You can be forgiven for thinking this brings us uncomfortably close to Minority Report, the sci-fi movie where billboards can identify individual passersby using facial recognition. After all, if Facebook can identify you from a picture, so can an advertisement. Technology also exists to track your reaction to ads, so if a pitch isn’t working, the billboard might change its style to better grab your attention. Isn’t technology simultaneously awe-inspiring and terrifying?