IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

That Sign You are Viewing Might Be Looking at You

While doing some research on small form factor embedded computers for our M2M reports, I ran across something I thought was very interesting, and I think you will find it interesting as well. I saw that a recently released Kontron embedded computer targeted at the digital signage market was pre-validated for use with Intel’s AIM Suite software. I thought that it couldn’t be AOL’s Instant Messenger so I wondered what it was. As it turns out, AIM stands for Audience Impression Metric and it uses video from outward facing cameras in the digital signage. By using the AIM software, the material being presented can be changed to improve response.

The keynote speech given by MIT’s Rosalind Picard at this year’s Design East/Embedded System Conferenceunderscored the incredible amount of information that can be automatically generated from a video feed. As part of experiments refining the technology and testing reactions, the MIT media lab installed several of these systems to measure ‘happiness levels’ in several MIT public areas. One of Ms. Picard’s presentation slides showed that facial analysis software can even measure the pulse rate of the people based on minute changes in facial coloration.

How can M2M empowered signage work in practice? First of all, one fear of any company purchasing public advertising is that not enough people will see it to justify the expense. Now, assurances can be made and contracts written based on the number of people that truly look at the signage. Which graphics and message will have the best impact? Now multiple versions can be deployed and based on real time information, all of the signage can be changed to the best versions and possibly changed again when people show they are tired of them. It is even theoretically possible to change the advertisements dynamically in response to the demographics of the people in the vicinity. It could be a simple as adults versus children or more complicated analysis based on personal characteristics and what people are wearing or carrying. Pretty interesting isn’t it and perhaps a little scary?