English: Tesco Service Station, Porthmadog

English: Tesco Service Station, Porthmadog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

British retail and gasoline service station chain Tesco will soon be tailoring on-site advertising to its clients. Using facial recognition software on monitors located near cash registers, Tesco will be able to direct advertising to clients, based largely on sex and age. Tesco expects to reach as many as five million adults on a weekly basis. The technology will be rolled out to Tesco’s 450 service stations over the next 5 years.

Amscreen, the manufacturer of the screen plans to roll out the service to grocery retailers as well. That’s really where the market seems to be. Amscreen CEO Simon Sugar had an oddly unappealing way of describing the service. He compared it favorably to the not favorable description of the future in the film Minority Report, and told British trade publication The Grocer, that he planned to roll it out as quickly as possible.

The software will also change ads depending on the date and time and monitor purchases. There is some concern about privacy violations since it might be feasible to link credit card charges to the type of ad and the viewer. That would raise consent issues beyond simply targeting ads. This may be a sign of things to come in the U.S. as Britain is far ahead of this country in the use of video surveillance in its cities.

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