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I don't normally like to follow a particular trend on the internet, but I've read several articles discussing in what ways the movie Minority Report has predicted the future of technology. It got me thinking about ways in which Minority Report has predicted several real-world uses for interactive digital technology.

In Minority Report, the setting is a futuristic society that depicts the potential impact digital technology might have in our lives.

Featured in the film is facial recognition software, which is most relevant to today's digital signage industry. One scene depicts a futuristic mall where scanners are placed throughout. Upon getting close to one of the scanners, the customer's eye is scanned and the person is instantly recognized from a database. Afterwards, an advertisement is displayed that is be specific to that person's identity. Ads were generated to target a person's specific buying preferences, size, age and gender. 

When I first saw the film years ago, I never thought this type of advertising platform could come to fruition, but the foundations of this platform actually are alive today. One of my clients, for example, uses a high-definition camera to identify people walking into highway rest stops. The camera is so precise that it can identify people based off of gender and potential age. The camera also scans the license plates of every car driving through to gather statistics on the states of origin of each of the automobiles.

Even digital signage in the retail space can now be equipped with cameras that identify the gender of the person walking by and display a video advertisement appropriate for the gender. The camera can also track whether or not a passerby stops to view the ad, and if so, the length of time that someone stays to view it. While it is a far cry from the privacy-invasive retina scan featured in the film, technology already is fairly close to similar functionality.

So what do you think? Is it worth the risk of crossing the gray line of potential privacy invasion to deliver targeted ads that would interest you as a consumer, or is it better to take away cameras and just deliver random ads to consumers?

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