‘Minority Report’ ads: Smart video posters use facial recognition to advertise to women


Non-profit organisation Plan UK has launched a new video poster campaign that recognises if a viewer is male or female using facial recognition technology, and displays different content accordingly. The advert is located on a bus stop in London’s Oxford Street, and will use a high-definition camera to scan hundreds of thousands of passers-by. The advertisement will run as a two-week trial, and allows commuters to view a 40-second video provided that they are female.


The new technology is reminiscent of the fictional adverts from the sci-fi film Minority Report, where Tom Cruise is pursued through a shopping mall, while holographic posters scan his retina to identify his needs and encourage him to relax with a Guinness or ‘escape’ to a holiday destination.

The real-life Plan UK campaign highlights the plight of some of the world's poorest girls, and the technology uses gender to determine which video content is displayed.

It will guess their gender based on the distance between their eyes, the width of their nose, length of the jawline and shape of their cheekbones.

The full advert forms part of its "Because I Am a Girl" campaign, which aims to ensure girls in the world's poorest countries are able to receive a good education.

If it is a male trying to access the ad, the screen will display only the charity’s website.

"We're not giving men and boys the choice to see the full ad on this occasion – so they get a glimpse of what it's like to have basic choices taken away," said Marie Staunton, Plan UK's chief executive.

The technology is thought to be 90% accurate and reportedly cost the charity some £30,000 to roll out.

The poster ad was created by ourdoor advertising firm Clear Channel.

Neil Chapman, Group Head of Clear Channel, says: “We are delighted to be working on such an innovative and important project as the ‘Because I am a Girl’ opt-in ad campaign for Plan UK. It highlights important issues about the lack of choices girls face around the world and we hope our gender recognition solution can help raise awareness of them.

"The technology is part of an overall solution which is the most advanced yet to be used in out-of-home advertising, incorporating a sophisticated multi-touch screen, wide angle HD camera and 3D depth sensor. It’s like a giant iPad crossed with an Xbox Kinect. Using the screen, brands can encourage consumers to view, browse, create, share and download HD content, connect to social media, interact via the touchscreen or gesture, and even star in the ads using augmented reality.”

Listen to Naomi Williams, (Plan UK) Senior Campaigns Officer on Radio 5 discussing the Plan UK Choices for Girls campaign and the ground breaking UK first interactive bus stop ad below.

Source: Plan UK

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