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Big Brother is watching, and he wants to sell you a new car

Updated 4 years ago
Published Jun 8th, 2012 11:45AM EDT

Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report” painted a scary picture of the future in a number of ways. For privacy advocates, one of several nightmarish technologies used in the film allowed outdoor signs and billboards to play targeted interactive advertisements by scanning the eyeballs of passers-by in order to identify them. Such technology isn’t widely available yet, but Intel plans to take a big step toward a future chock-full of invasive ads when it launches a new TV advertising platform that makes use of facial recognition to target ads to viewers.

A report from Reuters on Friday suggests that Intel is currently in talks with content providers to offer a set-top box and customized television service combination that could change the way consumers pay for TV service. Media content providers are said to be reluctant, of course, but Intel is reportedly talking about breaking up the standard all-or-nothing model by launching a service that offers specific channels or even shows at prices below those paid by cable and satellite providers.

To sweeten the deal, the technology company is said to be pitching its service alongside a set-top box that will deliver targeted ads with scary accuracy.

Intel’s system is said to use facial recognition technology that will allow it to serve targeted ads rather than broadcasting the same ads to all viewers in a market. While Reuters’s sources indicate that the system will not identify specific individuals, it will be able to ascertain a viewer’s age and gender in order to deliver ads that have a statistically better chance of prompting purchases.

“If they can create a virtual network and it incorporates proprietary Intel technology, they could certainly bring something different to the subscription TV model,” JMP analyst Alex Gauna told Reuters.

The news comes as rumors and speculation surrounding an upcoming Apple “iTV” heat up. Apple is said to be planning a new television with Siri-powered controls and a unique content subscription model that could offer channels in app-like bundles.


Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.