Creepy Advertisers Will Soon Spy on You With Webcams

binocularsDo you ever get that feeling when you're alone that feels like you're ... not alone? Well, pretty soon you won't just be a crazy person thinking the ghost of your dead aunt is haunting you again, because that's actually going to be the case.

I'm not talking about your dead aunt here. I'm sure she was a lovely woman, but she bears no relevance in this post. I'm talking about technology that will not only be able to identify which ads you look at while you're doing whatever it is you do on your computer, but technology that will be able to identify how you react to them.

Your dead aunt is looking a lot less freaky right now, huh?


This advance in Big Brother-dom comes to us through the power of image-processing software and the ever-presence of itty-bitty cameras that are in pretty much ever gadget we own. One of the companies helping to make this frightening idea a terrifying reality is the London-based Realeyes. They've developed a system that marries webcams with emotional analysis. Realeyes can apparently gauge a person's mood by plotting the position of facial features -- eyebrows, mouth, nostrils -- and using smarty-pants algorithms to interpret changes in their alignment -- for instance, when eyebrows are raised in surprise, or nostrils are flared in disgust. The result? They're inside your brain. Without you even knowing it.

Well, actually, you will know it. Sort of. With concerns about, you know, random people spying on you in the privacy of your own home sure to mount, companies like Realeyes are going to have to get permission to use webcams in this way. One way is to entice them via special discounts on goods or subscriptions to websites.

Permission or not, this stuff is creepy. Espionage on dictators and international spies is one thing. But espionage on everyday schmucks like you and me who are simply perusing the net for a cute kitten video? Not cool. I'm not in advertising or marketing, so I'm really in no position to delve too deeply into this subject, but bottom line is this: Americans buy shit. And we'll continue to buy shit even during recessions. Because that's what we do. Do we really need top secret webcams to guarantee this?

Do you think this is creepy?


Image via Andy Hay/Flickr

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