Computer Scientists have invented a system enabling digital billboards to remotely spot the weights of people passing by.
Researchers in Singapore have developed a camera with depth perception provides a weight estimate that could be used to better target advertisements. With this sensing capability, physical advertisements could get far more personalized.
"There exists a variety of practical situations where having an estimate of human weight is extremely useful," Discovery News quoted Shuicheng Yan, the leader in the weight-detection system development as saying.
Cameras embedded in the ads would "read" weights so the ads could change based on the demographics in the area. Advertisers' goal is to accumulate enough weight data to customize the ads.
For example, if the ad senses a number of athletic women passing by a camera-equipped ad, ads would be modified for that demographic, or, if the camera senses an overweight population, the location might be ideal for advertising healthful foods or exercise-related products.
"You will see a suitable advertisement-clothing, make-up products, shops which are suitable for your height, weight, and age-according to your demographic information," Yan said.
Since facial recognition technology on billboard ads that collects age and gender data already exists, Yan and his colleagues focused on weight as another potentially valuable piece of information.
The technology uses a depth camera similar to the kind found in an Xbox Kinect to sense and determine the "volume" of a passing human. Once the camera estimates the volume, the computer scientists use algorithms for human body detection and body feature extraction to figure out what the person weighs. That data is also run through a standard body mass index.
So far, the system has been tested in the lab on 200 participants in Singapore who ranged from about 90 to 220 pounds. The detected weight appeared on a computer screen set up in the lab so it could be checked against each participant's actual weight.
"All the technology companies are pushing the boundaries of your tolerance for privacy. So we'll see what happens," Kai Yu, the head of media analytics department at NEC Labs in Silicon Valley, said.
The paper describing the novel technology has been submitted journal IEEE Transactions on Image Processing.