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

Zach Epstein
June 8th, 2012 at 11:45 AM

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 has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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